Big Bucks, No Results
Why politicians can’t, won’t fix Sacramento’s homeless problem
By B.C. Parker
Few of us know what goes on behind the scenes as our elected officials try to “resolve” the homeless crisis. But this much is clear: Government has managed to exacerbate the problem.
Why? Our officials have tapped into an ever-growing, seemingly endless taxpayer money supply with zero requirements to account for any meaningful, measurable results. What a deal!
Imagine being hired for a job, producing terrible results and receiving massive bonuses year after year. Is it any wonder people are frustrated and believe politicians have failed?
Homelessness has become a mechanism to control huge sums of federal and state dollars. Why would politicians shut off the faucet? They provide lip service to constituents and the media while making backroom deals and raking in campaign donations from labor unions.
A common claim is homelessness is due to lack of affordable housing. Rarely mentioned is why it costs more to build an affordable apartment unit vs. a market rate apartment. The answer is the requirement of prevailing wage, which forces developers to pay higher rates for labor when building projects with public money.
The average cost to build a new stick-frame “affordable” one-bedroom apartment is more than $500,000 per unit. That’s compared to an average of $385,000 per-unit for a market rate apartment. As recently reported in the Sacramento Business Journal, Lavender Courtyard, a 53-unit affordable apartment project for LGBTQ seniors will cost $27.5 million to develop, or $519,000 per unit.
One simple solution to address the direct costs of building so-called affordable housing is to eliminate prevailing wage. But politicians will not bite the hand that feeds them. Local media and taxpayers do not hold politicians accountable, so homelessness worsens and quality of life in Sacramento declines.
Another homeless housing scheme is the Homekey state grant program. This slush fund recently incentivized the City Council to overpay for two hotels converted into permanent “supportive” housing with no charter or covenant that requires occupancy by homeless people living in squalor on the street.
Speaking of living on the streets, who directs the homeless to squat in public right of ways? Is there an app directing them to the oleanders along Alta Arden, Roseville Road or Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard? Do homeless activists send clients to these sanctuaries?
Sacramento’s homeless crisis is the result of modern, progressive politics that aims to normalize lawlessness regardless of the impact on communities.
Elected officials have no intention of fixing the homeless problem or serving their constituents who own businesses, homes, pay taxes and contribute to our community. They are only interested in the grift. In this era of big government, politicians care only about how many dollars they can spend, not results.
Perhaps politicians should step aside and let uncompromised citizens right this ship. Politicians do not possess the DNA of a business professional who identifies risk and opportunity and puts mitigation and contingency plans in place.
Honesty and leadership are necessary for good governance. Unfortunately, among local politicians, these traits are in short supply.
B.C. Parker is a concerned Sacramento homeowner. Please submit comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.