Reinstitutionalization – Make America’s Cities Great Again!

by Kerry Lutz
Financial Survival Network

Homelessness in America is truly a crisis and a national disgrace, but not for the reasons that the progressive Left would have you believe. The Left are outraged because America as the richest country in the world shouldn’t have any homelessness under any circumstances. To them, the homeless are a symbol of the failure of capitalism. If only we lived in a collectivist utopian society homelessness would cease to exist. The real truth is that homelessness as experienced in America today is a direct result of the failed Leftist policies.

Confused? You thought that the manifest unfairness of our economic system has led to ever higher numbers of people living on the streets. Completely untrue. What’s really happening has little to do with economics, it is a mental health crisis. To understand true nature of the problem, we need to examine the makeup of the homeless population.

In my last article, I stated that the homeless population is made up of four distinct subgroups: 1) Chronic Alcoholics; 2) Degenerate Drug Addicts; 3) The severe mentally ill and, 4) Economic Casualties. Who are they? Groups 1 & 2 are one and the same, it’s just a matter of choose your poison. While it’s certainly cheaper to be an alcoholic than a drug addict, the end result is the same: The inability to function in society and eventual homelessness and destitution. Group 3 is comprised of two groups, the untreatable and the treatable mentally ill. The untreatable cannot be controlled with either medication or therapy. The treatable can be brought back to sanity, but for whatever reasons do not receive adequate care. The final group the so-called economic casualties are most receptive to social programs and generosity mixed in with a little bit of love. Most of the time they’ll turn things around. There’s also an opportunistic subgroup who have learned how to game the system. They desire public housing and have figured out that homelessness is their ticket to government paid shelter. It’s impossible to calculate how many such people this group comprises, but in New York City it is substantial.

The Left wants us to believe that almost all homeless are economic victims. This is an outright lie. As a former New York City inhabitant for 45 plus years, I can personally attest to the fact that nearly every homeless person I saw inhabiting the midtown Port Authority Bus Terminal, Penn Station and other public facilities all fell into groups 1-3. While many were docile and mostly harmless, there was a significant portion that were aggressive panhandlers with a predilection towards violence. They could often be found babbling, cursing and screaming at unknown objects of their vitriol.

For the first 3 homeless groups, there is only one solution to insure society’s protection and their well-being, forced long-term confinement in mental health facilities. They are obviously unable to properly care for their own well-being, and by virtue of their inhabiting our streets and terminals they represent a significant threat to themselves and society. Significant numbers of these groups may in fact be treatable and capable of reform and healing. However, larger portions are not and therefore must be permanently confined.

As stated before, in 1955 there were 550,000 residing in our nation’s mental hospitals. Today, even after the doubling of the population the number is just 45,000. And 1955 was well before the drug epidemic. Initially, states passed drastic deinstitutionalization laws to reduce the costs of confinement. However, this has backfired on them big time. San Francisco expends $40,000 per homeless person annually. New York City, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and almost every other major city spends 10’s of billions each year to temporarily house the homeless and provide medical and other services. And of course there are costs that cannot be calculated. By some measures as much as 25 percent of those inhabiting our jails and prisons suffer from some mental affliction. The homeless often wind up there as punishment for committing crimes to obtain drugs, alcohol or food. Clearly, they are burdening our overcrowded penal facilities and could be better cared for elsewhere.

There is no other effective means to deal with the homeless problem. Reinstitutionalization is the only humane option available to address this humanitarian crisis. We’ve embarked upon a 50 year experiment in deinstitutionalization. Any thinking person must admit it has been a grand failure. Our government has failed society and it has failed that part of the population most in need. The cost and casualties continue to mount, billions are expended annually with no hope of controlling the problem, let alone solving it. It is time to embrace involuntary commitment both to protect society from the homeless as well as to protect the homeless from themselves, and the inevitable predators that they attract – like bees to honey.

Until society as a whole reaches this inevitable conclusion, we will only see the problem continue to escalate and grow more out of control. It’s time to try a new/old approach that will benefit everyone.


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