California candidate for governor Travis Allen says that the state has failed to house and service the needs of homeless people. But he proposes a solution that is believed to infringe upon the rights of the displaced to choose where they live. Allen wants to build state-run mental institutions and force the homeless to live in them.
The Sacramento Bee reported that the current state assemblyman revealed his plan at a housing forum in March and is making the measure part of his campaign platform. Allen said that Los Angeles’ Skid Row and San Francisco’s epidemic homeless problem are proof that “what we’re doing is not working.” Allen blames the mayors of those cities, but the conservative Orange County representative believes that this is one time where the state should step in to fix the problem.
But homelessness is an age-old problem which existed long before Mayors Antonio Villaraigosa (Los Angeles) and Gavin Newsom (San Francisco) took office. According to the Union Rescue Mission website, the 54-block area in Downtown Los Angeles has been designated as Skid Row since the late 1800s.
The agencies which provide social services to those who are down on their luck are located in the hub of the city. It is a natural progression for those in need to migrate to areas close to where they can get basic human necessities, including food, clothing, healthcare, and at least temporary housing.
Allen insists that bringing back institutions which offer housing, mental health care, treatment for substance abuse, and job training will solve the problem. He believes that homelessness has persisted for too long without adequate attention paid to it by local governments.
Opponents to Allen’s proposed measure cite the high costs of these state-funded facilities along with the potential human and civil rights violations that could accompany forced institutionalization. There is also a fear of criminalizing the homeless. Allen said that he wants to see police ensure that homeless people don’t “litter” the streets. There are anti-camping and loitering laws on the books that must be enforced, and Travis Allen hopes that upholding the law will drive displaced non-California residents out of the state.