Democratic mayors are changing course on homelessness, opting to clear out homeless encampments they previously tolerated, according to multiple reports.
Many liberal cities paused efforts to clear out homeless encampments during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Associated Press reported. However, Democratic mayors have recently opted for a more aggressive approach, moving to sweep homeless camps.
Los Angeles banned camping in certain locations around the city in January, and Los Angeles mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino suggested a ballot measure to bar people from sleeping outside in public spaces if they decline shelter, the AP reported.
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell removed two blocks of tent cities near City Hall Wednesday after a two and a half week standoff with activists and camp inhabitants, according to the AP.
New York Mayor Eric Adams cracked down on the homeless population living inside the city’s subway system with a safety plan that prioritizes police patrolling “high-priority” areas and removing mentally ill and homeless people, the New York Post reported.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser launched a program to clear certain homeless camps in summer 2021, but the effort was shot down by city council members in December, the AP reported.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler banned roadside camping in “high-crash” areas in February due to homeless pedestrian deaths, clearing at least ten encampments, and said “it’s been made very clear people are dying,” according to the AP. Wheeler’s adviser Sam Adams floated a plan that would force up to 3,000 homeless people into massive temporary shelters.
“People in this city aren’t stupid,” Wheeler said, according to the AP. “They can open their eyes.”
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in December it was time to be “less tolerant of the bullshit that has destroyed our city” before declaring a state of emergency for the high-crime tenderloin district.