As with all big issues, there are several interlocking causes, but this is certainly one of them.
The reasons often offered include a moderate climate, the availability of generous welfare benefits, mental health and drug abuse. However, a lengthy and meticulously sourced article in the current issue of Atlantic magazine demolishes all of those supposed causes.
Rather, the article argues persuasively, California and other left-leaning states tend to have the nation’s most egregious levels of homelessness because they have made it extraordinarily difficult to build enough housing to meet demands.
Author Jerusalem Demsas contends that the progressive politics of California and other states are “largely to blame for the homelessness crisis: A contradiction at the core of liberal ideology has precluded Democratic politicians, who run most of the cities where homelessness is most acute, from addressing the issue.
“Liberals have stated preferences that housing should be affordable, particularly for marginalized groups … But local politicians seeking to protect the interests of incumbent homeowners spawned a web of regulations, laws, and norms that has made blocking the development of new housing pitifully simple.”
Demsas singles out Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area as examples of how environmentalists, architectural preservationists, homeowner groups and left-leaning organizations joined hands to enact a thicket of difficult procedural hurdles that became “veto points” to thwart efforts to build the new housing needed in prosperous “superstar cities.”