SKID ROW-With all the recent talk of a possible “Homeless Czar” who would lead the effort to solve homelessness in Los Angeles, I can’t help but begin the New Year with a resolution of my own.
If I were named as Homeless Czar, here’s the first thing I’d do: I’d withhold the paychecks of everyone with jobs related to homelessness…period. Then I bet we’d get some solutions – and fast! Problem solved.
Seriously though, everyone we look to for solutions for homelessness is receiving a paycheck -- including non-profit executive directors and CEO’s earning six-figure salaries, some as much as $200,000 to $300,000 a year.
The Mayor and City Council also make six-figure salaries. Fifteen City Councilmembers each “earn” $250K. LAPD is “earning” a $1.5 billion budget for the current fiscal year. And so on.
Add to this the money that comes from the Federal government (American taxpayer money,) as well as funding from the state and local levels, along with grants and donations from private foundations and public “do-gooders.” Think about it…there is a ton of funding being generated by the very presence of homelessness.
It stands to reason that as long as homelessness continues, a lot of “leaders” will continue to get paid. Maybe there’s just no impetus for them to do anything significant at all…only enough to justify “earning” their paychecks.
With that established, as the Homeless Czar, I would have access to internal documentation to support my theory. And that’s when I would drop the hammer!
During my first press conference on the steps of City Hall, I’d boldly announce, “No one will receive paychecks until the desired results have been achieved.”
I can guarantee that the necessary “sense of urgency” we’ve all been waiting for would instantly be present. All solutions -- coordination of efforts, outreach, healthcare, housing and shelter options and more -- would be quickly implemented with easily identifiable results: less homeless folks and less encampments on the streets across the City and County of Los Angeles.
Voila! Then and only then would paychecks for the “experts” be resumed.
Unfortunately, this idea of mine is not the reality. But then again, neither are your promises to quit smoking, stop drinking, exercise more, lose 25 pounds, go back to school and get a better paying job.
The funny thing is, if I really were named the Homeless Czar, I believe I could actually do the job in a relatively easy fashion. All I’d need is complete compliance from everyone.
Unfortunately, you’re stuck now with the other guys – the ones with the “comprehensive strategic homeless plans.” But if nothing else, I would make them earn their paychecks.
Happy New Year!
(General Jeff is a homelessness activist and leader in Downtown Los Angeles.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.
Vol 14 Issue 1
Pub: Jan 1, 2016