Updated: May 21
One of the most vexing problems facing America is homelessness. Currently there are around 600,000 people living on the streets and the number is growing. Billions of tax dollars have been spent on the issue and the smartest social scientists in the world have yet to come up with a fix.
Up to half of the folks without a place to live have mental health challenges and they've been political footballs for decades. President Kennedy signed legislation in 1963 designed to nationalize homelessness by building scores of centers where mentally ill people could go while receiving care. Jimmy Carter improved the law but a few years later, Ronald Reagan repealed it and sent the issue back to the states. We can all see how that worked out.
While it's often illegal to sleep overnight in public, laws are rarely enforced, often because civil rights advocates step in to prevent authorities from forcing tent dwellers to fold up and be on their way with no other place to go.
The solution is obvious. Over the years, hundreds of military installations have been closed throughout the U.S. which could be repurposed as temporary housing while a permanent place is found for every person. With the right leadership, the streets could be cleaned up within a year and the hand wringing would be over..
How bad is it? When technicians dismantled a broken BART escalator in San Francisco a few years ago, they discovered that hundreds of pounds of human waste had gummed up the works. A hazardous-materials team had to be called in to clean things up before workers could repair the system.