“If it feels like there are people living on the streets and under bridges everywhere you look, it’s because there are,” Bianca Barragan wrote for the website L.A. Curbed last month, after a survey by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found an 85 percent increase in the number of people living in tents and cars over the past two years. In all, the census counted more than 25,000 homeless people in the city, up 12 percent over the same period.I'm not sure what to make of this. Liberals blame rising inequality and the lack of affordable housing; anecdotal evidence suggests that some people in very expensive places like Boston and Silicon Valley are sleeping in their cars because even working full time they can't find any place to live. But the lesson of the past 15 years is that homelessness is a specific problem with causes to some extent separate from the overall economic conditions, so just crying "inequality" may not be all that relevant.
In my hillside neighborhood in northeast Los Angeles, the value of a two-bedroom home has climbed to $750,000 or more. Buy in, and you could get a nice view of a valley with sycamore trees and a homeless camp. On social media, I hear my neighbors demanding that city officials intensify indigent-removal efforts.
One thing we do know is that the last time America was dominated by plutocrats, in the robber baron era, we also had a big homeless problem, a rootless population of people wandering the country from east to west, sleeping in haystacks and alleys. The sense that working people are getting shafted by the rich seems to be spreading again in the country. It seems logical to me that this will lead to more and more people just walking away from a system that seems rigged against them. After all, the rich and their Republican spokesmen don't seem to have any respect for the labor of ordinary people, so why should they slave away at jobs that mainly benefit someone else?