Rather than Spending Billions On Urban Housing, Consider Purchasing Land in Places like Palmdale, CA, where Land is Cheaper
Spending $1 million per unit to build housing in Santa Monica would cost $1 Billion or more. Buying 500 Acres in the Desert Would Cost Just $5 million
July 24, 2023
Subject: An Alternative Perspective on Addressing Homelessness in Santa Monica
The Santa Monica City Council's recent discussions around resolving the city's homelessness and related crime crises have given rise to a proposition that seems both unfeasible and impractical. This proposal suggests constructing housing units for the homeless in Santa Monica, which, while well-intentioned, raises significant concerns regarding the fiscal burden on our city, the potential magnetization of homeless individuals nationwide, and the continued issues of crime and drug use.
The projected cost of these housing units is reportedly $1 million per person, an amount that, given the estimated 800 to 900 homeless individuals in Santa Monica, would quickly escalate to nearly $1 billion in taxpayer funds. This expenditure is unsustainable for our city's budget and could lead to severe cuts in essential services. Furthermore, such an attractive prospect could draw homeless populations from all over the country, exponentially raising the cost and making it virtually impossible to secure the necessary funds without imposing draconian taxes on residents and businesses.
However, the financial concern isn't the only issue. It's important to remember that providing housing alone will not address the deep-rooted issues many homeless individuals face. Mental health issues, drug addiction, and criminal behavior won't be magically resolved by offering them a home. In fact, without proper support and treatment, these problems could continue to persist within our city, affecting the safety and well-being of all residents.
While addressing homelessness with housing is a noble goal, it's critical to consider the time, funds, and resources necessary for this project. Based on current projections, it could take decades to build the required homes, during which time, the situation could worsen.
As we scrutinize the city council's proposition, I would like to offer an alternative solution. Rather than investing billions into urban housing, why not consider purchasing land in places like Palmdale, CA, where the cost per acre is exponentially cheaper? In a relatively short span of time and with a significantly smaller budget, we could establish facilities offering sanitation, food, and most importantly, services for mental health and drug treatment. Such a location could serve as a transitional community until we can offer more permanent solutions, addressing immediate needs and providing a path towards recovery.
To clarify, this proposal is not an attempt to simply relocate the issue. It is a compassionate, cost-effective response aimed at addressing the immediate needs of the homeless, as well as initiating long-term solutions to combat homelessness. It is an invitation for the council to look beyond their current proposition and consider alternatives that could provide a more immediate and substantial impact.
Having personally spent countless hours volunteering for homeless care in various regions, including Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Baltimore, and Boston, I have seen the dramatic transformations possible with individualized, compassionate mental health and drug care. These experiences have shaped my perspective and reaffirmed my belief that our focus should be on care, dignity, and immediate action.
The Santa Monica City Council's dedication to resolving our city's homelessness crisis is commendable. However, it's essential to approach the problem with practical, cost-effective, and holistic solutions. Let's open up the conversation and consider alternatives that can deliver a more immediate, significant, and sustainable impact. This isn't just about providing a roof over heads; it's about restoring dignity, health, and hope to our fellow citizens.
Thank you for considering this perspective. -- HH