Feb 19, 2018
A few months ago, Orange County, California officials started forcing homeless people out of their encampments along the banks of the Santa Ana River. Near Angel Stadium in Anaheim is their last target, an encampment which is the home of an estimated 500 to 1,000 people.
Orange County, which is one of the richest communities in the world, is very hostile toward the homeless. One homeless woman, Laura Kasten, told the Los Angeles Times: “It’s clear no one wants us to be able to stay at the riverbed. They're very prejudiced. The way they talk to us and tell us to get out, it’s like we’re dirt.”
Orange County has ordinances that make it a crime to sleep or rest in public places. Homelessness is illegal under county law. The cops ticket or arrest homeless people, release them after a night at the jail, and re-arrest them later because they are homeless. Last year, one Orange County city, Anaheim, removed bus benches just to prevent homeless people from sleeping on them! Many people came to the riverbanks because their existence was criminalized in the cities. Now, Orange County wants to force the homeless out of such encampments.
Jodi Samhat, a homeless man, quite rightfully asks: “Where do you end up when every door is shut?”
But money is available to address the housing problem. After the economic crisis started in 2008, the federal government funneled money to banks and corporations to the tune of 15 trillion dollars in total. So they have money to construct new houses for the homeless.
Empty houses are also plentiful. But, these same banks and corporations keep these houses empty to maintain high real estate prices and rents.
Capitalism, the social system under which we are living, cannot provide an answer to basic social problems such as homelessness, because this crazy system is only responsive to the demands of the rich.