An Bold, Loopy Plan for a Failing California: Homeless Excessive-Velocity Rail – GV Wire

An Bold, Loopy Plan for a Failing California: Homeless Excessive-Velocity Rail – GV Wire


Joe Mathews


California is spending billions to accommodate its growing inhabitants of unhoused individuals. However it hasn’t come near ending homeless its bold purpose of ending homelessness. And lots of Californians have misplaced hope that it ever will.

California is spending billions to assemble a high-speed rail system. However it hasn’t come near finishing an precise line. And lots of Californians have misplaced hope that it ever will.

Within the face of such failures, what’s to be finished? One choice could be to give up, concluding that mega-projects are too difficult right here.

Or we might metal ourselves and embrace the knowledge of Dwight Eisenhower—who suggested: “If an issue can’t be solved, enlarge it.”

In Ike’s spirit, I recommend we mix the massive issues of homeless housing and high-speed rail into one thing bigger.

I hereby suggest—very modestly—Homeless Excessive-Velocity Rail.

The Proposal

You learn that proper. Discovering everlasting lodging for unhoused individuals would turn out to be the brand new, pressing mission of our high-speed rail authority.

Below Homeless Excessive-Velocity Rail, the state’s unhoused individuals would not need to reside in vehicles or shelters or encampments. As an alternative, everybody would have the choice of a sleeping-car berth on a brand-new bullet practice.

Certain, this fusion would possibly create some challenges. However would possibly it resolve much more issues?

Consolidating Initiatives

For instance: advocates have lengthy criticized California for its mishmash competing homelessness initiatives, and for inadequate funding for native options. My proposal solves all that—by consolidating each single state and native homeless housing program beneath one single state company: the California Excessive-Velocity Rail Authority.

Now, some cynics would possibly name that mixture loopy—a mere merger of two big dysfunctional cash pits. They usually wouldn’t be solely fallacious. The state has spent greater than $20 billion on housing and homelessness since 2019—however the variety of unhoused Californians has grown by one-third. In the meantime, the high-speed rail mission has secured $25 billion—however continues to be $10 billion in need of the $35 billion required to finish its first Central Valley section.

Win-Win Scenario

However, as an alternative of spending massively on the land, labor, and allowing for homeless housing—Los Angeles pays  $800,000 for some models—California might spend that cash on rail vehicles that present housing, leaving extra funding to construct rail. That’s a win-win!

Combining homeless housing and high-speed rail additionally might reply objections that canine each packages.

For instance, cities typically can’t construct homeless housing due to opposition from neighborhoods. However NIMBYs would lose their yard objections, when housing zooms previous, at 200 miles per hour.

In the meantime, internet hosting homeless Californians solutions persistent questions on whether or not there could be sufficient riders to assist the mission. In a Homeless Excessive-Velocity Rail mission, unhoused people would supply a big and regular ridership base.

Not a New Idea

Unusual as my proposal could seem, nearly nothing about it’s new.

Maintaining homeless individuals consistently on the transfer sounds merciless, however that is already established coverage throughout California—since communities consistently tear down homeless encampments, forcing unhoused individuals to maintain relocating. And should you board native transit methods within the state, you’ll see that people with out houses are California’s most devoted practice riders, due to the low-cost shelter they supply.

Objections and Actuality

In fact, there might be some Californians who object to the entire idea, discovering it perverse. These misguided moralists, a number of of them columnists, will say that California is a wealthy place that may afford to accommodate all its individuals and to construct the high-speed rail methods that different international locations have.

In idea, these skeptical Californians will most likely be proper. However California doesn’t function on idea. It operates on unmanageable finances processes, a risky tax code, and a damaged governing system. Since California refuses to repair these methods, it is going to by no means have sufficient housing for the homeless, or a high-speed backbone for its transportation networks.

So, earlier than you dismiss my modest proposal, ask your self: Within the face of large failures, when doing massive, important issues is almost unattainable, is any thought too terrible to take off the desk?

In regards to the Writer

Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Sq..

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