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Political correctness (PC) has invaded every aspect of American life. Language has been a seminal target. A “homeless” person, in a literal sense, is someone without a home. The term is misleading. Yet, we know what the one refers to when we see it in the streets of our cities.
In another era, this group might be called “hobos” or “bums”. “Undocumented” versus “illegal” alien is another display of this semantic trickery, designed to not offend, which has become a de facto 21st-century crime. America’s homeless crisis owes its calamity a string of failed public policies.
The left looks at statistics and consistently errs as to the cause-and-effect binomial predominance. The socioeconomic disparities between black and white Americans are another paragon of this vicious error. Here, leftism points to false narratives substantiated by the radical, Marxist Critical Race Theory (CRT) and cries out “systemic racism” as the root cause. Public policy failures that have pulverized black families and have fortified a “noble victim” identity class, along with fomenting a crippling social network complex to feed into this worldview, points to a more probable cause for these disparities. Vagrancy in the United States has suffered a similar fate of miscomprehension by leftist politicians.
The nation’s street indigent population grew, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) “2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report” (Report), to more than 580,000 people in January 2020. This is a 2% increase from the previous year. HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge went on to say after the January 2021 publication of this study for Congress that the country has a “moral responsibility to end homelessness.” While the statistics may accurately reflect a body count of the homelessness problem, the CRT-ladened, statist Biden-Harris administration will predictably make use of this “crisis” for its noble victim identarian warfare.
The Report attests that black Americans are overrepresented in the homeless citizenry. Composing nearly 39% of the nation’s street dwellers, while accounting for less than 13% of the U.S. population, blacks disproportionately, on a per capita basis, top the group. White Americans comprise 74% of the population, yet constitute, as per the HUD study, 48% of people enduring this same situation. Foreseeably, the left will attribute this to their farcical “systemic racism” and “white supremacy” dogma. Hispanics, at about 23% of the vagabond population and 16% of the national citizenry, are slightly overrepresented as well.
The Report confirms other obvious factors. 25% of all street dwellers in America live in Los Angeles and New York City. California, with 161,548 people, is the nation’s top vagrant host state. This HUD made-for-Congress study is important in what it tells us, as well as what it omits. The human homelessness crisis in America today is a mental illness, drug addiction, and failed public policy problem.
This Biden-Harris analysis of the homeless situation in the U.S. is a political set-up established to conform to its ideological contentions. No earnestly pensive study on the homelessness situation worth anything can ignore the culpability that the mental deinstitutionalization that has occurred since the 1960s has had in putting people in jeopardy by closing the nation’s institutional public psychiatric wards. The other predominating factor to this crisis has been the social victimology culturalization formulated to accommodate political objectives.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark James Estren affirmed in Prescription Drug Abuse that roughly 487,000 mentally ill patients were discharged from state hospitals between 1955 and 1994. According to the National Institute of Mental (NIM), approximately 50% of persons with severe psychiatric disorders receive no mental treatment whatsoever. The NIM points to 3.5 million individuals in this category.
The Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), a national nonprofit organization focused on raising consciousness for severe mental illness treatment, cites that 16% of all inmates in America’s jail system suffer from a mental disorder. In fact, they state that there are 10 times as many people in prison, as there are in psychiatric medical facilities. TAC claims this total number of persons to be around 350,000 in the U.S. jail system.
The issue of homelessness bears an entangled relationship with deinstitutionalization, that state policy that began in the 1960s and siphoned off mental health patients from structural state-run psychiatric institutions that were responsive to society’s problem with the mentally infirm. In its place, mental patients were slowly released into society. In their place, a diminishing pool of underfunded community mental health centers that were insufficient to handle the needs of the mentally perturbed and difficult to control the population. Combined with its symbiotic partner, drug addiction, a proliferation of mentally distressed individuals who cannot and/or do not want to work, started moving into the nation’s streets.
Some argue that this is s “housing shortage” crisis. This is absurd. Most of the street dwellers in the U.S. cannot and/or do not want to work for a living. If they were given free housing, there is a high likelihood that this would incentive borderline indigent cases to claim “homelessness”. If they receive subsidized rent, since most vagabonds generate no lawful income (if any), this would not address the crisis.
The victimology culture that leftism has fostered, has been the other causal agent for this crisis. In this regard, the two poster cases of California and New York City, both left-wing political fiefdoms, have instituted vagabondism toleration policies that breed and encourage the homelessness crisis.
Deinstitutionalization and vagrant permissive government policies are responsible for the labeled “homeless” situation.
Julio M Shiling, political scientist, writer, director of Patria de Martí and The Cuban American Voice, lecturer and media commentator. A native of Cuba, he currently lives in the United States. Twitter: @JulioMShiling // Julio es politólogo, escritor, director de Patria de Martí y The Cuban American Voice. Conferenciante y comentarista en los medios. Natural de Cuba, vive actualmente en EE UU.