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Compassion with Results

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Cities across the United States are struggling to address the homelessness crisis. The latest point-in-time survey found 552,830 people experiencing homelessness in the United States, including 194,467 people living unsheltered in tents, cars, and on the streets.1

The purpose of this paper is to provide a roadmap for immediate impact for American cities and counties on the issue of homelessness. We propose a plan that will dramatically reduce public camping, drug consumption, and street disorder within 30 to 60 days of implementation. While the long-term goals for subsidized and permanent supportive housing are necessary components of public policy in many jurisdictions, we believe these plans must be supplemented with the short-term objectives of creating an emergency “safe ground” facility and adopting a policy of “compassionate enforcement” that will deliver immediate results to the citizens, families, and homeless individuals across the country.

In contrast to jurisdictions like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle, which have spent billions of dollars per year on homelessness and have only seen the problem worsen,2 this paper will argue that “unlimited compassion” is the road to ruin. Our goal is to present city and county governments with an alternative that will take care of those in need and, at the same time, create a community that is safe, clean, and vibrant for everyone.

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Christopher Rufo

Director, Center on Wealth, Poverty & Morality
Christopher Rufo is Discovery Institute Research Fellow, filmmaker, and writer focused on cities, inequality, and social capital. He’s directed four documentaries for PBS and has appeared on NPR, CNN, ABC, CBS, HLN, and FOX News. Christopher is the Executive Director of the Documentary Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to producing and distributing documentaries about the American experience. Christopher is active in Washington State public policy, both as a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the City of Seattle’s income tax and as a board member for the Washington Policy Center Young Professionals. His writing has appeared in National Review, The Federalist, Seattle Times, Crosscut, Puget Sound Business Journal, Filmmaker, and Indiewire.