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Seattle homeless man accused of raping teenager at knifepoint

Westlake Legal Group Seattle Seattle homeless man accused of raping teenager at knifepoint The Blog Seattle Rape homeless

So here’s your horrible story of the day. A Seattle man named Rene Maya Estrada, who is apparently also an illegal immigrant, has been arrested and charged with raping a teenager at knifepoint. However, in this case, the rape didn’t happen on the street it happened in the girl’s own home. Why was Estrada in the girl’s home? Because her parents had invited to live there temporarily:

Considered an extreme flight risk, prosecutors say he has been in Washington for eight months, appears to have been subject to immigration-removal proceedings in 2005, and had his Mexican passport with him at the time of his arrest. It also appears a warrant was issued for his arrest in Colorado on drug charges, according to the records.

“The defendant is essentially a stranger to the victim. He was homeless and her parents allowed him to stay in their apartment in order to help him get on his feet,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Celia Lee wrote in charging papers…

Two days later, “the defendant waited for the victim to arrive home from work, grabbed her and forced her into her bedroom at knifepoint, where he removed her clothing and raped her. He told her he would kill her if she did not comply with his demands,” Lee wrote. “When she resisted, he punched her. He then moved her, at knifepoint, to the laundry room, where he raped her again.”

The 17-year-old victim finally escaped because of some quick thinking. A car pulled up outside the laundry room and she claimed the people inside, who were strangers, were her cousins. She raced to the car and got in and Estrada left. Once he was gone she told the real story to a woman in the parking lot who called 911.

Police responded but were unable to arrest Estrada. Four days later he showed up at the teen’s place of work saying he felt bad. She called 911 and this time the police got him.

ICE is reportedly investigating Rene Estrada but, as of today, hasn’t said whether or not he has been deported in the past.

This isn’t the first time a homeless person has been accused of rape this year. Three months ago a 60-year-old homeless man was accused of raping two teens, aged 13 and 14, after providing them with drugs. And last year a 24-year-old homeless man was accused of raping a 40-year-old woman in the bathroom of a car dealership. That woman, identified only as Lindsey, later approached documentary filmmaker Christopher Rufo to tell her story. After they released a video describing her rape, Lindsey said she faced a backlash from progressives in Seattle who didn’t like that her story was making homeless people look bad:

Progressive activists launched a counterattack against Lindsey on social media. Local journalist Erica Barnett claimed that the story drew attention because Lindsey is an “attractive blonde woman” and dismissed the victim’s “many tears” as theatrics serving a false narrative that the homeless represent a danger to the community. She demanded that the media temper its reporting and be mindful that “graphic descriptions of violent rape may be triggering for survivors.” Barnett’s message was amplified on left-wing Twitter; Councilwoman Lorena Gonzalez claimed that Lindsey’s story would create fear and cause harm to communities “that may already be triggered.”

There’s definitely a contingent of Seattle progressives who don’t want to hear any bad news about the homeless, not even from victims of rape.

As for Estrada, it’s hard to imagine how someone could become such a POS that they would rape the daughter of people who offered him a free place to live just two days later. Then again, it’s also hard to imagine being a parent dumb enough to let someone like this into your home. If a company had let a homeless man move into its offices and someone was raped, the company would surely be sued. It’s a shame this girl can’t benefit by suing her own parents.

The post Seattle homeless man accused of raping teenager at knifepoint appeared first on Hot Air.

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NY Times reports on the ‘backlash’ to homelessness in California

Westlake Legal Group SF-homeless NY Times reports on the ‘backlash’ to homelessness in California The Blog NY Times homeless backlash

The NY Times published a story about homelessness in California today but the framing of the story is a bit odd. It’s headlined, “As Homelessness Surges in California, So Does a Backlash.” The rule for progressive outlets is always the same: If the story helps Democrats then it’s a story. If the story might help Republicans then the reaction to the story is the story. So here, instead of writing a straight piece about how the homeless are causing a rise in crime in San Francisco, you get a story about “backlash” in which the homeless are the victims. Here’s how it opens:

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.

The subtext here is that even liberal, tolerant people are getting annoyed by the situation. A homeless activist in Los Angeles clarifies that even some who are “very left of center,” are unhappy:

“Some people who I’d put in the fed-up category, they’re not bad people,” he continued. “They would describe themselves as left of center, and sometimes very left of center, but at some point they reach the breaking point.”…

“I think those of us in the service-provider community always knew we weren’t going to solve the problem,” said Mr. Maceri of the People Concern. “But I think the expectation was we were going to make a significant dent. So on the one hand, the message is we have all these resources to quote-unquote solve this problem. And what the general public sees is, it’s not getting solved, it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.”

He’s right about things not improving. The count of homeless people was up this year along the west coast despite cities like San Francisco spending hundreds of millions of dollars to combat it.

In addition to the public’s (accurate) sense that a lot of money is being spent with little result, there’s also the constant disinformation coming from professional homeless activists. As the LA Times pointed out recently, activists always downplay the degree to which this is largely a problem about mental health and drug abuse. As a result, people see behavior taking place in the streets that is rarely reflected by their representatives and often tut-tutted in newspapers. This creates a sense that no one is addressing the problem as it actually exists for homeowners and businesses. To the Times’ credit, some of that frustration does get voiced by Paneez Kosarian. Kosarian made news in August after she was attacked by a deranged homeless man with a history of drug abuse.

Ms. Kosarian and others cite city estimates that half of the homeless people in San Francisco have substance abuse issues, and say the crisis is being misdiagnosed as purely a lack of housing. Mayor London Breed announced this month that San Francisco would begin enforcing a state law that makes it easier to force mentally ill people off the streets.

“This is definitely a more complicated definition than just homelessness,” Ms. Kosarian said. “Even during the daytime, I fear walking alone.”

The story also quotes property developer Gene Gorelick who is fed up with the crime:

Mr. Gorelik said he saw a connection between the 90 homeless encampments in Oakland and crime. His construction sites have been burglarized nine times, he said, and his car has been broken into twice.

A woman being attacked outside her apartment. A man’s car and businesses being broken into repeatedly. These are examples of the many other business owners and homeowners who have been robbed or had altercations with homeless people. That’s not to mention the feces in the street, the used drug needles in public parks, and public transportation and sidewalks that have become illegal campsites. Why is it necessary to frame all of this as part of a backlash instead of a story of people being victimized by crime associated with the homeless?

As is often the case these days, there is a divide between the comments recommended by Times readers and the ones recommended by Times’ staff. Here’s the top comment recommended by readers:

This article misses a key distinction that we Californians make. Californians have all the empathy in the world for those who we call the homeless – those who lost their homes to foreclosure, disasters, layoffs, or runaway medical expenses. Many have jobs, but can’t muster thousands of dollars of cash for a security deposit. They are people who want to get back on their feet, but can’t because of runaway housing prices. We want to do all we can to help these people get out of their cars and tents and back into a home.

Californians are fed up with vagrants, which are a completely different problem than the homeless. Vagrants actively seek to live outside the rules and confines of society to use drugs and alcohol. Many have mental illnesses that they are self-medicating – a treatment they choose over going into the system and using resources to stabilize and reintegrate. Californians are fed up with those who CHOOSE homelessness, even when offered services to help them get back on their feet. When the city or county clears our camps, they bring social workers to help enroll vagrants in services designed to get them in their feet. A great majority refuse, and move on to their next location. It is vagrants that Californians are done with and that we have no solution for, not the homeless.

Times’ staff selected a response to this comment but I’ll spare you.

The post NY Times reports on the ‘backlash’ to homelessness in California appeared first on Hot Air.

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KOMO News’ sequel to ‘Seattle is Dying’ looks at homelessness along the entire west coast

Westlake Legal Group Seattle-Pete-Holmes KOMO News’ sequel to ‘Seattle is Dying’ looks at homelessness along the entire west coast The Blog Seattle San Francisco los angeles homeless

KOMO News really changed the discussion surrounding homelessness with its “Seattle is Dying” special earlier this year. Before that special was released, the conversation being mediated by so-called experts was largely about income inequality and rising rents. But those issues, while they certainly deserve to be part of the conversation, didn’t cover a lot of the things that business owners and cops experience every day on the streets. “Seattle is Dying” brought the conversation back to drugs, alcohol, mental illness, and what to do for people who don’t seem to want help.

Before I get to the video, KOMO had a story a few days ago which suggested there are indeed a lot of people on the streets who don’t want the help they are being offered:

A majority of people who the city’s Navigation Team referred to shelters this year did not take the referral and go to the shelter, according to new data released by the city

The data shows during the first quarter of 2019, of the 203 people who received referrals to shelters from the Navigation Team, 53 of them enrolled within two days of getting that referral. That’s only about one-quarter of the individuals who got referrals that actually went to the shelters.

During the second quarter of 2019, the number of individuals who took the referral from the Navigation Team and went to the shelters rose slightly to about one-third. It showed of the 224 people who were referred to shelters, 75 enrolled in the shelters within two days.

Why would homeless people rather sleep outside than go to a shelter? Ironically it’s because they don’t want to be around a bunch of drug addicts with mental problems:

Andrew Constantino, who now lives in a tiny house village, had similar concerns with shelters. Constantino described the rules at shelters as “almost punitive.” He said staying at shelters gives people very little agency over their own life and own decisions.

“It’s just not very good conditions for humans to live under,” Constantino said in interview earlier this year. “You’re sleeping six inches away from a stranger, often that stranger has untreated or undiagnosed mental health issues or they might be struggling with addiction issues — or they’re scared.”

This week, KOMO News released a sequel of sorts to “Seattle is Dying” that includes a follow-up look at homelessness in Seattle but also takes a broader look at what is happening in Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s titled “A Tale of 3 Cities.”

Speaking of Seattle, reporter and narrator Eric Johnson said not much has changed though in some ways the situation has gotten worse. Where police used to have an unofficial 3-gram rule for drug arrests, the new standard is the 7-gram rule.

As for the solution which Johnson’s earlier documentary proposed, there was lots of interest in how Providence, Rhode Island is addressing the homeless problem. The city held a two-day seminar for leaders from around the country, but no one from Seattle or King County attended it. “The trap we have set for ourselves through policy that holds hardly anyone accountable for hardly anything is still set,” Johnson said.

The sections on Los Angeles and San Francisco were previously released as stand-alone clips in June and July. If you missed them then, they are worth watching.

The last four minutes of the special deals with additional changes made in Seattle since the first special was released. If you stick through to the end you’ll see that new signage doesn’t necessarily mean much has changed.

The west coast’s progressive leaders are at war with reality and human nature. Not surprisingly, reality is winning. Hopefully, news reports like this one will ensure that mayors and city council members in these cities aren’t able to retreat further into their progressive bubble where the only problem they can see is a lack of affordable housing.

The post KOMO News’ sequel to ‘Seattle is Dying’ looks at homelessness along the entire west coast appeared first on Hot Air.

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Portland firefighters responded to more than 1,200 homeless camp fires in two years

Westlake Legal Group homeless-fire Portland firefighters responded to more than 1,200 homeless camp fires in two years The Blog Portland homeless firefighters

A Fox News affiliate in Portland requested public data on the number of times city firefighters are called out to fires started in homeless camps and the results were stunning.

“Our call volume does have an increased amount that is a result of some kind of emergency or crisis that is happening with our homeless population,” said Lt. Rich Chatman with Portland Fire & Rescue. “That’s a fact of life and we’ve just really come to understand that this is part of our job now.”

The FOX 12 Investigators requested data for fires started in homeless encampments from July 2017 to July 2019.

It showed Portland Fire & Rescue responded to more than 1,000 fires in those two years. It also showed they’re usually responding to these fires several times a day.

Take May 29 of this year: Data shows Portland crews responded to 10 fire calls at homeless camps.

The actual number of fires was 1,230 so, on average, they’re responding to two a day. The story notes that earlier this year the firefighters started identifying every fire they respond to as either homeless related or not so they can better estimate the percentage of resources these calls are using.

I find the sheer number of fires involved here pretty stunning but I was curious how this compares to their normal workload. In FY17, the annual report shows they responded to 11,168 “Fire Incidents and Reported Fires.” In the FY18 report, the summary is different. It shows there were 3,283 “Actual Fire Incidents.” Obviously they’ve changed how they count fires and now seem to be excluding reported fires that didn’t turn out to be actual fires. It’s not clear how many of the 1,230 fires at homeless camps (over two years) were of the actual variety but this is definitely a significant chunk of their workload considering homeless people living outside in Portland (about 2,000) represent less than half of one percent of the city’s total population (nearly 650,000).

What is all of this costing the city? The fire department has an annual budget of $120 million. It’s hard to estimate how much that would change if the number of calls dropped by 600 a year, but clearly it costs some significant amount of money.

Arguably it would make more sense to spend that money on providing people with housing that doesn’t require them to heat or cook with potentially dangerous fires rather than responding to disasters. But I don’t think we can assume that everyone living on the streets is willing or able to change their life. As the LA Times reported this week, the percentage of homeless people with mental illness and/or substance abuse problems could be between 67 percent and 75 percent. Those people are going to need a lot more than subsidized rent to put their lives together. That’s especially going to be true if the offer of housing comes with expectations that residents will remain clean.

Here’s the Fox 12 report. As always, whatever is happening in Portland is probably happening in LA and Seattle as well.

The post Portland firefighters responded to more than 1,200 homeless camp fires in two years appeared first on Hot Air.

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Portland homeless man who menaced a woman and child gets probation despite 220 previous arrests

Westlake Legal Group Tiffany-Hammer Portland homeless man who menaced a woman and child gets probation despite 220 previous arrests The Blog Portland homeless crime

A homeless man named Brian Ray Lankford who threatened a woman and her son with a large tree branch in 2017 was given a break this week. Instead of putting Lankford in jail, the prosecutors cut a deal which gave him probation and mandatory drug treatment. That might not seem so bad until you learn how many laps Lankford has already made around this particular block:

Lankford has been arrested more than 220 times in the past decade and — as of Monday — convicted 68 times for crimes including misdemeanor theft, trespassing, harassment, disorderly conduct and interfering with public transportation, according to his court file. He often has been sentenced to fines, short stints in jail or probation in which he was not actively supervised.

On Monday, Lankford pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a weapon and menacing after a woman arrived home in August 2017 to discover Lankford behind her Goose Hollow-area home, just a few blocks from Portland State University. She told him to leave, and he began swinging a 3-foot-long tree branch toward the woman and her son, who had retreated to their locked car and called 911, investigators said.

The boy told police he worried Lankford was going to break their car windows and hurt them.

The boy’s mother, Tiffany Hammer, told the Portland City Council in May that Lankford was a repeat criminal who was among a homeless population that commits a wide array of crimes around their neighborhood. On that particular day, Hammer said, she thinks he was trying to steal from her home.

If the name Tiffany Hammer sounds familiar, that’s because I’ve written about her a couple of times before. Hammer got involved with the issue of homelessness in her neighborhood after the attack by Lankford. He had been living on a strip of public land not far from her house. Hammer organized a cleanup effort in which local residents cleaned up the area and removing all of the garbage and used needles left behind. To prevent homeless campers from returning to the freshly cleaned site, the neighbors planted dozens of rose bushes. Each bush had a small ribbon tied around it.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) took issue with neighbors planting things on their land and claimed the tiny, ground-level ribbons might be a dangerous distraction to drivers. Just to emphasize the point, ODOT hadn’t previously expressed any concern that a tent camp surrounded by garbage and needles was a distraction to drivers, but the tiny ribbons were suddenly a concern.

Then, about a month later after all of this made news, the city decided that it would roll out a new program for the homeless. It parked a “hygiene station,” basically a porta-potty plus lockers on wheels, in the same neighborhood. Tiffany Hammer complained at a City Council meeting that the station was actually making things worse:

“We’ve been attacked and threatened. I won’t mention the loss of possessions not bolted down or the daily car break-ins. We all know ‘em. More concerned about personal safety,” said Hammer to city commissioners…

While Hammer says she and her neighbors have endured fires, stolen possessions, even violence, the new hygiene facility has brought about more campers and threatening behavior.

“A swarm of extra campers have shown up in the last week and we’ve had a lot of personal attacks from that alone,” she said. “We hide our children in our homes to protect them. They are no longer able to walk to school.”

The hygiene station was moved and, after Hammer and a neighbor were attacked while watering the rose bushed they had planted, ODOT came around and replaced the rose bushes with huge boulders. No doubt this was a big win for the neighborhood but it’s disappointing that the attack that prompted all of this is once again being treated as another round in the endless cycle of arrests for Brian Ray Lankford. Of course, the idea is that this time Lankford will get treatment and stay out of trouble. Does anyone really believe that? Hasn’t he used up all of his benefit of the doubt?

I guess in Portland the 68th time is the charm. Here’s Tiffany Hammer describing how all of this began when she was attacked by Lankford:

The post Portland homeless man who menaced a woman and child gets probation despite 220 previous arrests appeared first on Hot Air.

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Seattle suffering from street crime and city that won’t deal with the criminals

Westlake Legal Group Seattle-robbery Seattle suffering from street crime and city that won’t deal with the criminals The Blog Seattle homeless crime

Impact Bioenergy runs a “micro food digester” in Seattle which converts grain leftover from a nearby brewery into natural gas and fertilizer. But KOMO News reports this green company is moving out of Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood because of the persistent, low-level crime:

“We did a pilot to demonstrate new ways to divert commercial food waste away from landfilling,” says Impact Bioenergy president Jan Allen…

Unfortunately, the quintessential Seattle business that prides itself in being in the forefront of a green economy is leaving.

“Just all this street crime is crushing us, we are a small company we just can’t do it,” says Allen.

Over the past three years, he says the company has suffered wire theft and the theft of their electric cargo tricycle for collecting food.

“I think it’s a little bit naive to think that all the folks that are living around in vehicles and all that – they are not good people, they are just killing us with theft,” says Allen.

He’s talking about homeless people in Seattle who live in RVs and cars. Like many homeless people, they survive (and feed their habits) by stealing from people in the neighborhoods where they live. And that takes a toll on businesses and neighborhoods.

Last week I wrote about a new report funded by a group of Seattle business leaders which found that City Attorney Pete Holmes declined to press charges in nearly half of the non-traffic misdemeanor cases that came to his office. The Seattle Times wrote an editorial describing the report and calling on voters to make changes to the City Council and demand more from the City Attorney:

Inconsistent and slow responses condone lawlessness and demoralize police and those reporting crimes. Even worse: In too many cases, there’s no justice for victims…

An urgent civic response and changes are needed. Change should come in November’s election. Voters must elect new City Council members who are less defensive of the status quo, support reforms and are realistic about keeping the community safe. That informed this board’s decision to endorse candidates Mark Solomon, Jim Pugel, Phil Tavel, Egan Orion, Heidi Wills, Alex Pedersen and Ann Davison Sattler…

Public safety is not increasing in parts of Seattle, raising questions about the prosecutor’s discretion and performance. Holmes must respond with solutions, not excuses.

Other elected officials should be demanding improvement, and voters must choose carefully, to avoid more of the same, in November.

Meanwhile, some additional evidence that the system is failing. Last December a 51-year-old man named Farrall M. Ditschinger entered a small market intending to rob it and then began viciously beating a 71-year-old woman who was working there. He hit her more than 50 times with a pair of handcuffs he used as improvised brass knuckles. He also pulled a knife which, fortunately, broke during the attack. The victim was saved by a delivery driver who happened to pull up outside. He was caught nearby, arrested and charged. So what happened to this fine specimen once handed over to the Seattle justice system? A Seattle blog kept track and reported this yesterday:

Last December, 51-year-old Farrell M. Ditschinger was charged with assault and attempted robbery after an attack on a 71-year-old woman working at Juneau Street Market. In the months since, King County Superior Court records show, he has twice been found incompetent to stand trial and both times sent to Western State Hospital for competency-restoration attempts. Last month, a report indicated that a third try at restoring competency was not likely to render him able to participate in his defense, and a judge dismissed the charges. However, the same report recommended reviewing him for civil commitment, suggesting he otherwise was at risk of endangering himself and others. What happened from there, public records don’t show; the King County Jail Register shows him released from KCJ custody on September 10th, the date of the hearing.

He’s back out on the street.

The post Seattle suffering from street crime and city that won’t deal with the criminals appeared first on Hot Air.

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LA Times: Mental illness, substance abuse far more common among homeless than claimed

Westlake Legal Group skid-row-drug-addict LA Times: Mental illness, substance abuse far more common among homeless than claimed The Blog Seattle mental illness los angeles homeless drug abuse

If you’ve followed the issue of homelessness up and down the west coast, from Seattle to Los Angeles, one of the most fundamental disagreements between ordinary people and activists is over the issues of drug abuse and mental illness. Typically, activists arguing for more housing for the homeless are quick to trot out statistics that show only about a third of people on the street suffer from these problems. Meanwhile, shopkeepers and business people who encounter the homeless frequently suggest the percentage with such problems is higher.

When the agency responsible for the point-in-time homeless count in LA County released its findings earlier this year, they seemed to fit with the claims made by activists. Here’s a slide from the presentation given to elected officials:

Westlake Legal Group 29-percent LA Times: Mental illness, substance abuse far more common among homeless than claimed The Blog Seattle mental illness los angeles homeless drug abuse

Obviously if more than two-thirds of the populations you are trying to help do not have substance abuse or mental problems then it’s reasonable to argue that the key issue is a lack of affordable housing. But what if those numbers were reversed? What if two-thirds of respondents had problems that contributed to their inability to maintain a home?

An analysis of the underlying data performed by the LA Times came up with dramatically different results. In fact the results are nearly the opposite of what was presented to officials:

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which conducts the annual count, narrowly interpreted the data to produce much lower numbers. In its presentation of the results to elected officials earlier this year, the agency said only 29% of the homeless population had either a mental illness or substance abuse disorder and, therefore, 71% “did not have a serious mental illness and/or report substance use disorder.”

The Times, however, found that about 67% had either a mental illness or a substance abuse disorder. Individually, substance abuse affects 46% of those living on the streets — more than three times the rate previously reported — and mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder, affects 51% of those living on the streets, according to the analysis…

The findings lend statistical support to the public’s frequent association of mental illness, physical disabilities and substance abuse with homelessness.

In other words, the public isn’t crazy to think there is more going on here than a lack of affordable housing. In fact, the LA Times points out that a study published Sunday by the California Policy Lab at UCLA found even higher numbers for substance abuse and mental illness among the homeless nationwide. This chart represents their findings based upon a review of 64,000 homeless surveys:

Westlake Legal Group UCLA-homeless-chart LA Times: Mental illness, substance abuse far more common among homeless than claimed The Blog Seattle mental illness los angeles homeless drug abuse

Again, these numbers matter because, as the LA Times admits, homeless activists and advocates tend to downplay these realities:

At a time when cities and counties are struggling to respond to a growing number of street encampments, the UCLA study and Times analysis raise questions about whether government officials are taking the right approach and doing enough for people on the street who have little hope of getting into housing anytime soon…

Advocates for homeless people tend to not focus their messaging on mental illness, disabilities or substance abuse out of concern that doing so unfairly stereotypes and stigmatizes those without a home.

Briefing The Times on this year’s homeless point-in-time count prior to its release, Peter Lynn, executive director of the homeless authority, defended the agency’s statistics on homeless people with disabilities and substance abuse issues. He attributed the idea that the numbers should be higher to perception bias.

Like other local and state officials, he has portrayed the homeless population as being much like the wider population of housed Angelenos.

And this isn’t limited to Los Angeles. When the news special “Seattle is Dying” was released earlier this year, people were struck by the number of homeless who were shown suffering from some combination of drug addiction or mental illness. One homeless woman in the film even said that “100 percent” of the people she encountered on the street had a drug problem.

In response, a group of well-heeled non-profits in Seattle hired a PR firm that generated a series of talking points about the issue. Those talking points were then repeated (without attribution) by various experts in various print outlets. One of the main talking points was that only about 35% of the homeless experience mental or substance abuse problems. And because that was true, they argued, “Seattle is Dying” was a misrepresentation of the problem.

I found those claims to be extremely misleading even before these new surveys, but now I’m wondering if Seattle and other cities aren’t all dialing these numbers down in a similar way. LA’s Homeless Services Authority didn’t dispute the Times’ findings but merely said they were using narrower criteria established by “federal guidelines.” Maybe the Seattle Times, the Oregonian, and the San Francisco Chronicle should take a second look at the point-in-time homeless surveys in their regions.

This debate is far from over but it does seem to have shifted in a significant way this week. The next time you read or hear homeless activists or experts claiming that only a third of the homeless have mental health or substance abuse problems, remember there should be a big asterisk on those figures.

The post LA Times: Mental illness, substance abuse far more common among homeless than claimed appeared first on Hot Air.

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Great News for L.A.’s Homeless Population: ‘Second Phase’ of City’s Plastic Straw Ban Now Underway

Westlake Legal Group LosAngelesHomeless2-620x357 Great News for L.A.’s Homeless Population: ‘Second Phase’ of City’s Plastic Straw Ban Now Underway Straw ban progressives priorities Politics North Carolina los angeles Human Rights homelessness homeless Government Gavin Newsom Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story Featured Post donald trump democrats Culture California Allow Media Exception

A homeless encampment in Los Angeles, CA. Screen grab via Fox News.

The long-running housing crisis and homeless problems in California’s big Democrat-run cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have been well-documented. But the tens of thousands of those living on the streets in L.A. can rest a little easier this week as the ‘second phase’ of the city’s straw ban has gone into effect.

KABC reports:

The first phase of the “Straws on Request” initiative went into effect in April on Earth Day, and applied to restaurants with more than 26 employees. The second phase expands the ordinance to include restaurants of all sizes, including fast food and sit down businesses.

Under the city ordinance, restaurants can only provide plastic straws if a patron asks for one.

Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and the city’s Bureau of Sanitation held a press conference Monday morning in Echo Park to remind restaurants of the law.

O’Farrell said the law seeks to reduce “single-use plastic waste from littering our beaches and waterways.”

Per the L.A. County website, “non-compliance may result in notices of violation and $25 fines for each day the business is in violation, not to exceed $300 annually.”

CBS Los Angeles notes that the L.A. version of the straw ban goes even further than a similar law already in place at the state level:

The Los Angeles ordinance is more restrictive than a state law that bars full-service restaurants from automatically giving out single-use plastic straws because it applies to fast food restaurants and is the latest in a series of moves to by several other cities and organizations to cut down the use of plastic straws.

City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell (D), who led the effort to get the straw ban in place, told a journalist during a news conference this week that in his opinion people didn’t really need straws to drink with anyway. He also provided smoothie drinkers with some helpful advice:

Twitter users had a some thoughts and questions after reading the news about Phase Two of the straw ban and O’Farrell’s suggestion:

Fox News took an in-depth look at the homeless crisis in Los Angeles back in August. Watch their report below to find out just how bad it is, and what L.A. is (not) doing about it:

Infuriating.

(Hat tip: Twitchy)

Flashback –>> Disabled Woman Tweets Epic Thread Demonstrating the Absurdity of Plastic Straw Bans – and Her Rant Goes Viral

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— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –

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City of LA joins legal challenge to 9th Circuit’s Boise decision

Westlake Legal Group LA-City-Council City of LA joins legal challenge to 9th Circuit’s Boise decision The Blog los angeles LA City Council homeless

Last week, LA County’s Board of Supervisors voted to file an amicus brief in support of a legal challenge to a 9th Circuit decision which determined it was unconstitutional to prevent the homeless from sleeping on sidewalks unless they were offered a bed somewhere else. That decision has limited what municipalities in western states can do to deal with homelessness. Yesterday, the city of Los Angeles decided to join the push to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the so-called Boise decision:

City Attorney Mike Feuer announced today that he filed an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take on Martin v. Boise, saying his office needs more clarity on its ability to enforce sidewalk bans.

In the brief, Feuer says the city agrees that “no individual should be susceptible to punishment for sleeping on the sidewalk at night, if no alternative shelter is available.” But, he argues, the Boise decision—which covers nine states in the west, including California— raises more questions than it answers…

In the amicus brief, the city attorney says there are three questions left unresolved in the Boise decision. One of those questions is: How many beds, exactly, must the city build before it can take “enforcement action.”

The LA Times points out a large list of cities in California have joined the push to overturn the ruling including, “Sacramento, San Diego, Fresno, Riverside and Orange counties.” LA’s decision to join in on the challenge to the Boise decision came just a day after an LA City Council meeting to discuss new rules regarding sidewalk sleeping turned into a chaotic mess.

At a meeting Tuesday at City Hall punctuated with shouting and hissing from the crowd, members of the Los Angeles City Council began to discuss how and whether to rewrite city rules about sidewalk sleeping — and came out with no clear answer.

City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who initiated the discussion, said L.A. needs to strike a balance between “the needs of people experiencing homelessness and people that we hear from every day who are understandably upset, frustrated and sometimes traumatized by the conditions they observe in many of our homeless encampments.”

“We must take an honest look at this catastrophe,” O’Farrell said, triggering yelling from the audience as he cited a “multifaceted set of conditions” in homeless encampments including addiction and mental health issues…

At one point, activists brought the meeting to the halt, yelling and eventually chanting, “Shame on you!” Venice activist David Busch, who is homeless, marched to the front of the chambers and shouted that “to even discuss this is disgusting!”

Ultimately, this problem is difficult because it goes to the root of the idea that people are responsible for themselves as individuals. What do you do when people can’t manage or when they simply give up trying?

For activists, the only acceptable solution is providing housing for the homeless, but the cost of doing so in places like LA (and San Francisco, Seattle, etc.) is prohibitive. There is simply no way LA County can afford to provide free homes to all 60,000 homeless people living here. Even if the county could somehow do so, the result would likely be a mass migration of homeless people from other cities finding their way to LA to get a better deal. This is a problem where many of the proposed solutions have the potential to make the problem worse.

Here’s a local news report on the LA City Council meeting. As you can see, the homeless have a very loud constituency.

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Los Angeles will seek to overturn ‘Boise ruling’ which prevents public officials from sanctioning the homeless

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With nearly 60,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County, there is a pressing need to do something about the growing crisis. However, a decision issued last year by the 9th Circuit has tied the hands of police in dealing with the homeless. Tuesday, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to join a legal challenge to that ruling. From the LA Times:

On Tuesday, the supervisors voted to direct lawyers for Los Angeles County to draft an amicus brief, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a challenge to Martin vs. City of Boise. The case, decided by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last September, found that arresting or otherwise punishing homeless people for sleeping on the sidewalk when there are not enough shelter beds or housing was unconstitutional.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who authored the county’s motion, said the ruling had “tied our hands” and made serving homeless people more difficult.

“We are grappling with a problem of unprecedented scale,” she said of the nearly 60,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County, many of them living outdoors. “Now, more than ever, it is critical that we have access to every tool at our disposal to combat homelessness.”

Two of the five supervisors on the board voted against the proposal saying they didn’t want to criminalize the homeless. There were also several dozen speakers at the meeting last night who mostly argued against the plan:

More than six dozen people spoke out on the issue during the board meeting, many of them pleading with the board not to support the appeal. Many said the homeless should not be subjected to citations or prosecution when they have no other alternatives for housing.

David Busch of the Services Not Sweeps Coalition issued a statement accusing the board of “working hand-in-glove with (President) Donald Trump” in a push “to remove the fundamental 8th Amendment constitutional rights they (the homeless) must rely on to protect themselves.”

The push to overturn the Boise ruling is being led by former Solicitor General Ted Olson. Olson and his law firm approached the city of Boise and offered to appeal the case for a discounted fee. With the 9th Circuit already having rejected an appeal, the case would now go to the Supreme Court:

In April 2019, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did refuse to reconsider the Boise ruling. But in an unusual dissent, Judge Milan Smith Jr. said the opinion broke with precedent for the U.S. Supreme Court and other appellate courts — a clear invitation to the high court to step in, legal experts said…

In his dissent, Smith, who was joined by five judges on the 9th Circuit, said that the Boise ruling had begun “wreaking havoc” on local government, and predicted that it would lead to dropping laws against public defecation and urination and force cities into ruinous investments in shelters or housing.

Smith put a photograph of sidewalk tents on a downtown Los Angeles street into the record, asserting that the Boise decision “shackles the hands of public officials trying to redress the serious societal concern of homelessness.”

Supporters of the Boise ruling, including the lawyer who brought the case on behalf of six homeless people, argue it makes no sense to arrest and fine homeless people who have nowhere else to go and no way to pay. They argue that cities will simply have to build more shelters and, in the meantime, allow camping in certain designated areas.

I get the apparent futility of it, but the problem I have with the Boise ruling is it essentially makes homelessness a lawless zone. Not only can you not tell the homeless they can’t sleep on the sidewalks, it’s not clear you can do anything to prevent them using the streets as a bathroom either. Essentially, this ruling forces taxpayers to provide land or housing for every mentally disturbed and addicted person who happens to turn up in their city. That’s bad for taxpayers but it’s probably bad for a lot of the homeless who are being told that responsibility for their lives can be offloaded onto struggling municipalities while they put all their personal energy into pursuing whatever demons led them into the streets in the first place.

A decision on whether or not the Court will decide to hear the case is due in the next few weeks.

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