The homeless problem in our communities of Los Angeles and Orange Counties is big and growing bigger. Today the ordinary resident must step over sleeping urine-soaked bodies strewn sleeping on our streets and sidewalks. Our parks can be seen filled with daytime sleeping homeless folks, “sleeping it off.” It is too much. We must put a stop to the rampant homelessness.


Being homeless is in and of itself not a crime; vagrancy laws citing “no visible means of support” are no longer enforceable. The majority of homeless folks are substance users and abusers including alcohol, marijuana, heroin, and many other illegal drugs. These drugs can be detected by various tests, both their presence and the amount of the intoxicant ingested.


It is illegal to be under the influence on the public streets and in public. Some cities like Huntington Beach even make it illegal to drink a can of beer on your own front porch! Our homelessness folks also are significantly damaged by mental illness. Many homeless persons suffer from both substance use and mental illness; they win the trifecta of conditions that destroy their lives.

Homeless persons cannot be detained just because they are homeless if there are not enough nighttime beds provided by local governments to house them. However, homeless folks can and should be brought before a judge if they are found to be under the influence. The judge can offer the accused a choice of jail for substance abuse or the opportunity to ‘take the cure’ and sober-up/dry out.


The US Congress can and should provide local communities the funding to pay for thirty or even ninety-day sober living treatment to first-time offenders of ‘under-the-influence’ laws. Once out of their sober living treatment these now ‘clean’ folks have the chance to make that life changing decision to stay sober or not. If the homeless person chooses to go back to substance use and abuse and is picked up again by the same city, it is a simple ‘Two-Sobriety-Strikes & You’re – Out!’ This would allow a judge to commit the twice guilty homeless person to long term treatment in a mental institution or jail as is appropriate, for being convicted twice of being under the influence.

All Homelessness Must be Addressed

1. Bridge Abutment Homeless: Currently local municipalities focus on the dirty and disheveled derelicts that panhandle tourists and residents for money. These homeless people typically sleep on a park or bus bench, or under bridge abutments. However, there are many more types of homelessness that community services should and must address.


2. Car Living Homeless: There are many thousands of folks that live in their car using the car to commute to work in the day and sleeping in the car at night. Their car is their home.


3. Illegal Garage Conversion Homeless:  Many garages that have been illegally dry walled and converted to a dwelling are called home by residents.  The families living in these garages are at higher risk of fire death and sanitation related problems.


4. Motel/Hotel Living Homeless:  There exist whole motel complexes inhabited by perma homeless families that change rooms every 29 days so the motel owner can avoid becoming entangled in a monthly rental contract.

Long Beach Homelessness

5. Couch Surfing Student Friend Homeless: At every high school there are several many dozen students that have been kicked out of their legal domicile residence by their parents to wander the streets. The luckiest of these kids are taken in by peer friend parents and allowed to sleep on the couch for the long term until graduation from high school. Couch surfing also exists with older persons beyond high school. The problem is any teacher that knows of a couch surfing student in their class is legally required to report to the Police or CPS Child Protective Services; seldom is this report made.


6. Shelter Living Homeless: There are several many charity homeless shelters for women, families and youth. These residents all have a safe home but would certainly be considered homeless and in need of services by any measure.


7. Two Families in One Dwelling: Under Federal Law if two families inhabit one residential dwelling unit, one of those families is considered homeless. In communities of extreme poverty this is likely the largest single number of homeless persons.


Congress can and must pass legislation to provide support measures for these seven categories of homelessness that are currently addressed poorly or not at all in the 47th Congressional District.