The homelessness problem

The other day, my colleague David Zimmer and I drove by a block-long homeless encampment in Minneapolis and we posted the video on Twitter:

Located on land owned by the city (taxpayers), it sits off Girard Avenue North, wedged in between an industrial area and a residential neighborhood.

For their part, Minneapolis took a crack at shutting down this camp more than a year ago. They failed. If anything, the current encampment has grown more populous.

I’ve been writing about the topic of homelessness for more than a decade. It was the subject of a section of my never-published, perpetually forthcoming book.

Back in 2013, I wrote about the effort made (beginning in 2004) to end homelessness in the state by 2010. We ended up with more homeless at the end of the effort than we had at the start.

Regardless, the state agency in charge claimed that 99 percent of its goals were achieved by the effort. Every goal was achieved, except the only one that counted.

Fast forward nine years and we have more homeless than ever before, even as more and more money and resources are devoted to the problem.

I’ll repeat what I wrote then, that the problem is one of basic accountability. As long as no one’s job is on the line, as long as failure brings only bigger budgets, the problem of homelessness in Minnesota will continue to grow.