Forget “Greenest City in America,” LA’s the “Meanest”

homelessFor all the talk and political pandering about LA being the “greenest city in America” no matter what it costs, the truth is we’re the least environmentally progressive city in California.

For all the talk and political pandering about the homeless problem no matter what it costs, LA is officially the “meanest city in America,” the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) and the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH).

After all, nothing in LA politics is quite as cheap as talk. It’s political will that’s lacking and has been lacking for a long time.

It’s in the light-headedness of our collective consciousness to fall for political slogans without actually looking at the facts, thinking for ourselves or having a forum for a public conversation.

We’d rather be amused by the Michael Jackson extravaganza or Britney Spears or the mayor’s latest TV anchorwoman companion than to notice what’s going on around us.

Troy Anderson in the Daily News did his best to take a look at the “Meanest City” report and traced what happened since January 2006 when the mayor launched his Safer Cities Initiative.
At that time, LA  was ranked 18th.

The Safer Cities Initiative was like a pogrom against the homeless to drive them out of downtown in an effort to help inflate real estate values for the heavily subsidized boom in lofts and apartments.

“This isn’t to say that homelessness and criminalization isn’t a problem everywhere, but to be pointed out as the worst among more than 270 cities is a strong indictment of policies that continue to put police over housing as the main response to homelessness,” said Becky Dennison, co-director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, a community organization and advocacy group that works with homeless and low-income people.

Anat Rubin, director of public policy at Lamp Community, a Los Angeles-based organization that provides housing for homeless people with severe mental illnesses, said the report confirms what many people working on Skid Row have been saying since the initiative began.

“We’ve been saying that the purpose of this policing is to target the poor and homeless and not necessarily crime in this community,” Rubin said. “The policing has criminalized both poverty and homelessness and targeted behaviors that are often symptoms of homelessness and mental disabilities.”

ronkayecartoonThe mayor needless to say dismissed the report as “short-sighted and misleading,” if we are to believe his spokesman Casey Hernandez.
“It fails to detail the city’s housing-first strategy, which reflects national-best practices for housing and services that help homeless individuals stay off the streets. And the assertion that Los Angeles criminalizes homelessness is simply false.”

There you go. Advocates for the homeless are wrong. The mayor is infallible. I guess you’ll just have to think for yourselves and make up your own mind. You might even talk about it amongst yourselves and decide to do something about what’s wrong.

Ron Kaye

Republished with permission from Ron Kaye L.A.

LA Progressive

Published by the LA Progressive on July 18, 2009
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