The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Los Angeles Passes Another Police Measure against Homelessness

Aug 15, 2022

With a vote of 11–3, the Los Angeles City Council expanded a city ordinance banning encampments to include any location within 500 feet of a public or private school.

Before the vote, homeless advocates protested the measure loudly, pointing out that as much as 20% of the city’s sidewalks would now be off-limits for homeless people, and that the new measure would cut many homeless people from much-needed support services. When a few of the protesters physically approached the council members, police arrested one of them and expelled the rest from the meeting.

In response, council members who voted for the measure said they had no choice, because they could not allow school children to be exposed to drug use and erratic and even dangerous behavior they say many homeless people engage in.

The problem is that this ordinance is a police measure that, at best, will move homeless people from one part of the city to another. But it does nothing to address the crisis of homelessness in Los Angeles, which has reached catastrophic dimensions. Year after year, the number of homeless people in L.A. has continued to soar beyond control. According to HUD data, there were 63,700 homeless people in L.A. (one in 61 city residents!) as of February 2022. And the true number is certainly much higher.

This worsening crisis is a result of the profit drive of the capitalist class, and how it affects the working class. As companies lower wages and landlords increase rents, families are pushed out of their homes. And this happens as tens of thousands of housing units in L.A. are purposely held vacant by their owners to keep rents high, and as most new housing is exclusively luxury homes for the wealthy.

In recent years, Los Angeles voters have agreed to tax themselves, more than once and by large margins, to provide large amounts of money for housing for the homeless. But capitalists, with the complicity of city and county politicians, have simply pocketed much of that money. In 2016, for example, Proposition HHH, a city measure, allocated 1.2 billion dollars in bond money to build 10,000 permanent housing units for the homeless. Six years later, only a little more than 1,000 of the promised units are built. And even those few units are built, in reality, for the benefit of capitalists: city politicians fork over, on average, 600,000 to 700,000 dollars apiece for these tiny apartments!

The disaster of homelessness shows the inability of the capitalist system to answer the social crises it creates.