West Coast homeless are spending their money on drugs instead of rent
By latest count, some 109,089 people are sleeping on the streets of major cities in California, Oregon and Washington. The homelessness crisis in these cities has generated headlines and speculation about “root causes.” Progressives allege that tech companies have inflated housing costs and forced middle-class people onto the streets.Officials don't have much of an answer for the drug problem or the housing problem. If the addicted are spending $1,834 a month on dope you would think if they were not addicted they could afford rent although that could still be a challenge in these West Coast cities.
Declaring that “no two people living on Skid Row . . . ended up there for the same reasons,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, for his part, blames a housing shortage, stagnant wages, cuts to mental health services, domestic and sexual abuse, shortcomings in criminal justice and a lack of resources for veterans. These factors may all have played a role, but the most pervasive cause of West Coast homelessness is clear: heroin, fentanyl and synthetic opioids.
Homelessness is an addiction crisis disguised as a housing crisis. In Seattle, prosecutors and law enforcement recently estimated that the majority of the region’s homeless population is hooked on opioids, including heroin and fentanyl.
If this figure holds constant throughout the West Coast, then at least 11,000 homeless opioid addicts live in Washington, 7,000 live in Oregon and 65,000 in California (concentrated mostly in San Francisco and Los Angeles).
For the unsheltered population inhabiting tents, cars and RVs, the opioid-addiction percentages are even higher — Seattle’s homeless-outreach team estimates that 80 percent of the unsheltered population has a substance-abuse disorder. Officers must clean up used needles in almost all the homeless encampments.
For drug cartels and low-level street dealers, the business of supplying homeless addicts with heroin, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids is extremely lucrative. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the average heavy-opioid user consumes $1,834 in drugs per month.
Holding rates constant, we can project that the total business of supplying heroin and other opioids to the West Coast’s homeless population is more than $1.8 billion per year.
In effect, Mexican cartels, Chinese fentanyl suppliers and local criminal networks profit off the misery of the homeless and offload the consequences onto local governments struggling to get people off the streets.