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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/8/21

Should America Outlaw Homelessness?

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"Housing First" is the solution that has been embraced by countries around the world. Time to repudiate the failed Reaganomics experiment and take it seriously again here in America.

The Old Beggar
The Old Beggar
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America has a massive homelessness problem. We could solve it in a decade or less with a simple solution that has worked very well in Japan, Denmark, Singapore and even parts of Canada.

Simply outlaw homelessness.

Not as in "make homeless people outlaws": we've already done that. It hasn't worked particularly well.

What I mean is to mandate the federal government end homelessness. And the easiest way to do that is to house the homeless and insure that others don't fall into homelessness because of health or economic crises.

Homelessness, after all, simply means people without homes. The solution? Give them a place to live.

Anyone old enough to remember can tell you that before Reagan cut funding for public housing and Section 8 subsidies byhalfin the first year of his first term, there wasn't much of a homelessness problem in America. Reagan justified this and subsequent cuts in a speech saying that homelessness in America was a choice.

But, prior to Reagan, homelessness was so rare in the US that, as Henry Graber noted for Slate:

"A 1976 history of low-income housing in America made the impossibly foreign observation that 'the housing industry trades on the knowledge that no Western country can politically afford to permit its citizens to sleep in the streets.' The word homeless, in those days, was used mainly to describe persons displaced by war or natural disasters."

Reagan famously cut taxes on rich people (the top 74% income tax bracket dropped to 35%) and homelessness exploded. And the taxes haven't gone back up, and homelessness has gotten worse.

Today a third of homeless people in New York City, for example, are families with children. One-in-three of those homeless families include an adult who has a job.

Finland just declared they intend to end all homeless in that country over the next six years. They're giving rooms, apartments and homes to homeless people without preconditions that they get a job, get sober, or anything else. They just get a home. Everything else follows that.

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)
 

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