Insults like “financial parasites” and “bums” have been directed at them, not to mention rocks and pepper spray. Fences, potted plants and other barriers have been erected to keep them off sidewalks. Citizen patrols have been organized, vigilante style, to walk the streets and push them out.
California may pride itself on its commitment to tolerance and liberal values, but across the state, record levels of homelessness have spurred a backlash against those who live on the streets.
Gene Gorelik, a property developer in Oakland and an aggressive critic of the homeless, recently suggested luring the thousands of homeless people in the San Francisco Bay Area onto party buses stocked with alcohol and sending them on a one-way trip to Mexico. “Refugee camps in Syria are cleaner than this,” he said in an interview at a fast-food restaurant in Oakland that overlooks a homeless encampment.
Homelessness is an expanding crisis that comes amid skyrocketing housing prices, a widening gap between the rich and poor and the persistent presence on city streets of the mentally ill and drug-dependent despite billions of dollars spent to help them.
The point of the billions isn’t to help them. You know, I’m beginning to think Trump might be able to, er, “pounce” on this backlash and carry California. At the very least a lot more people will vote for him there than will admit it.