Friday, March 28, 2008

Whose homeless are these, anyway? …

   Like many cities that feel overburdened with homeless people, the city of Ontario, Cal., has decided to take steps against those who it does not believe are its responsibility.  Earlier this week, the Ontario police entered a "tent city" and evicted those who "lacked ties to the city."  The tent city was evacuated and the city plans to fence it off.  According to the L.A. Times, the Ontario police said that the dispersed people included a man from Milwaukee, who was sent "home."
   It is the proper role of a city to discriminate against those with no pre-existing "ties" to the city?  On the other hand, warm places, such as southern California and my home state of Florida, believe that they bear an unfair burden of homeless people. 
   But one also wonders whether many of those pushed out of Ontario's tent city merely moved to locations nearby.  It does little good for communities simply to compete with each other to push the homeless to the next town.  The problem of homelessness should be dealt with at least at a regional level. 
   And for a success story about the benefits of metropolitan government, see this positive appraisal of the benefits of metro government, adopted in 2003, in greater Louisville, Ky.  The biggest city in Kentucky had been disfavorably compared with nearby Nashville (which adopted metro government in the '70s) in David Rusk's influential "Cities Without Suburbs."  No longer competing at every turn with its more affluent suburbs, Louisville's star is on the rise.  It might even be able to deal more effectively and fairly with its homeless problem …

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