Editorial: A fact check on Rick Caruso’s magical thinking about L.A. homelessness
For years, when California Republicans were in power, homeless advocates were invited to the state capitol on their way back from Washington or to the national GOP convention. In a state with one of the oldest homeless populations on the planet, the event was always political theater, with the homeless being placed on display alongside a Republican president or party official who looked like some sort of superhero.
Rick Caruso, a Republican state Assemblyman from Oxnard, was the man in charge.
After an evening of speeches by state and national GOP leaders, the homeless and poor in the state were taken out and lined up in front of Caruso’s office. It was like a parade, and there were cameras out to record the proceedings. Caruso was like a superhero, or a king. He was a powerful and revered figure, with the kind of fame that comes with being an assemblyman.
Caruso’s role in this exercise of power was to give out $10,000 grants to people who wanted to build more shelters and to hire more social workers.
He was a good guy who made sure the homeless people were treated with dignity and took the time to meet people and engage with them in a way that showed he cared about their lives.
But his actions had the opposite effect of what he needed to, by creating a homeless problem instead of alleviating it.
For years, Caruso and his allies in the California Senate and Assembly would hold fundraisers for homeless people. They would invite the homeless and impoverished to come to the state capitol and shower Caruso and his cohorts with cash.
The Republican state assemblywoman, who was also her party’s spokeswoman when she joined the Assembly to become a state senator, was there, too, and the homeless activists had their pictures taken with Caruso.
They were there because he was there.
The problem with Caruso’s actions, which took a few months to reach a critical mass, was that it created a homeless problem instead of an alleviation of homelessness.
Not only was Caruso a man of the people, he was also a Republican with a social conservative bent who had been elected over Democrats with large majorities.
The homelessness problem in Los