Homelessness

Homeless Survival and Property Rights Collide in Court Ruling

Let's not ignore the ordinances and harassment of the poor that led to this.

|

Homeless
Richard B. Levine/Newscom

Should basic survival be permitted to trump property rights? And what are the implications for saying "yes"? We may find out in Massachusetts. The state's Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that a homeless man can fight criminal trespassing charges by claiming it's the only way for him to protect himself from the cold.

Note that this doesn't necessarily mean the gentleman would be allowed to just barge in anywhere because of the chill or even that a jury or judge will buy the argument. The issue was that a judge denied the ability for the homeless man to use "necessity" as a defense to a jury. The Associated Press explains:

In a unanimous, 7-0 ruling, the court threw out six 2014 trespassing convictions. The court said the necessity defense allows a jury to weigh the plight of a homeless person against any harm caused by a trespass before determining criminal responsibility.

"Our law does not permit punishment of the homeless simply for being homeless," Justice Geraldine Hines wrote for the court.

The court noted that its ruling was not an open invitation for homeless people to trespass.

"Allowing a defendant to defend his trespassing charges by claiming necessity will not, of course, condone all illegal trespass by homeless persons," Hines wrote.

The owners of the properties had gotten orders to stop the guy from trespassing, so there's a definite conflict here between the right of the homeless man to find refuge from extreme weather and the rights of the property owners to control who is and is not permitted in their spaces.

But we needn't have to accept that this conflict is a natural consequence of having homeless among us. Let us not forget the many, many ways that municipalities make it hard for the poorest among us to solve their own problems. Let's drive across country to Los Angeles, where homeless folks are probably not likely to have to suffer much from cold weather. But they have to deal with municipal regulations designed to keep them from a sleep solution that doesn't violate anybody else's property rights at all. Los Angeles wants to adopt a new ban on homeless people sleeping in their own vehicles in many public spaces.

Los Angeles actually already had a ban on sleeping in one's vehicles (as do many California cities) but it was struck down in 2014. Judges ruled that the wording of the law was so unclear that it was being used by police to threaten people based on having food and personal property in their vehicles and even for sleeping in their cars on private property.

Los Angeles didn't fight the decision and said they would craft a new, clearer ordinance. And now it's back for consideration. From the Los Angeles Times:

At the city's homelessness and poverty committee Wednesday, Councilman Mike Bonin proposed barring homeless people from "lodging" in vehicles parked by homes and schools, while allowing them to sleep in their cars and campers from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. in commercial areas and in designated city, nonprofit agency and church lots.

Bonin said his proposal could forestall a more sweeping ban and avoid repeating what he called "absurd and pathetic" scenarios of the past, when police would ask people to get out of their cars to sleep on the sidewalks.

Homeless advocates said they doubt the city will come up with enough designated spaces to serve the city's homeless (the number of cars and RVs that are being used for living space in Los Angeles is estimated at around 4,600). And given that violating the law is a misdemeanor violation, they fear it will be used by police to harass the poor (and take and destroy their property). Furthermore, Los Angeles makes it hard for homeless or extremely poor people to work their way out of their situation by keeping them from being street vendors. Oh, and don't forget that incoming $15 minimum wage that will make it even harder for them to get jobs! Even giving them tiny houses to live in is not considered an acceptable solution.

Of course, property owners themselves contribute to this situation by encouraging cities to implement these ordinances because they don't like the visual blight and the annoyances that come from the homeless. But the confluence of all these policies coming together this way simply makes homelessness even more miserable and difficult than it already is.

Advertisement

NEXT: Mike Flynn, Editor at Breitbart News and Former Reason Foundation Director of Government Affairs, Dead at 48

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a job, sir. The bums will always lose. Do you hear me, Mr. Shackford? THE BUMS WILL ALWAYS LOSE.

    1. Look Fist, LA has a minimum wage law. That means you have to open up your property to bums every night. Can’t you see that, you big racist tea bagging bastard.

      1. This is our concern, Dude.

      2. The minimum wage law is not the issue! Also, John, “minimum wage law” is NOT the preferred nomenclature. “Living wage mandate,” please.

      3. Obviously, you’re not a golfer.

    2. I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening.

      1. Typical guy.

      2. STAY OUT OF MY DOORWAY, DEADBEAT!

        1. Eugene “Fist of” Etiquette treats objects like women, man!

    3. This is a perfect example of two conflicting natural liberties (the liberty to find a place to sleep and the liberty to claim exclusiveness of territory) where the state has come down completely on the side of the latter re property rights to land – and where libertarians (except geoists and dead guys like AJ Nock) mostly come down on the side of the state while claiming that they don’t need the state to enforce their property rights.

      And forcing someone to be a part of the cash economy in order to sleep without committing a crime looks to me like a violation of NAP.

      1. No one need be part of the cash economy. There is a whole lot of world out there were a person can go and not be bothered by anybody. But most of us choose instead to live within the bounds of the cash economy if for no other reason than it’s ever so much more comfortable and safe here. But the buildings, the roads, the electricity and the toilets were not bequeathed to us by Mother Nature, they were constructed by the cash economy. It is not too much to ask that those who do not contribute abide by the rules of those who do contribute. Or, they can go to where the cash economy does not exist and do as they please. No one will bother them.

        1. So – they are free to be a refugee as long as they stay far far away from you.

          That’s kind of like saying – I can swing my fists wherever I want and it’s up to you to move your nose. Otherwise, if you get hit, it’s your fault.

  2. The owners of the properties had gotten orders to stop the guy from trespassing, so there’s a definite conflict here between the right of the homeless man to find refuge from extreme weather and the rights of the property owners to control who is and is not permitted in their spaces.

    No Scott, there is not a conflict here at all or at least there should not be if you have any belief in property rights. We are not talking about a one time incident here. This is not a boat going to someone’s dock to escape a storm. This is someone who for whatever reason refuses to get a home. He isn’t just trespassing one night because of a blizzard. He is trespassing every single night instead of going to a shelter or getting his own shelter. That is an entirely different matter.

    Just because it sometimes gets too cold to sleep outside, doesn’t give me the right to trespass on your property every time it does.

    1. I think you might be misunderstanding here.

      What’s up for debate is not whether or not he had a *right* – he doesn’t – but whether he would be allowed to use *necessity* as a defense.

      A different example – you’re starving and steal bread. Its illegal to steal, you don’t have a right to steal, but if theft is all that stands between you and death . . . that should be considered in your trial.

      1. that should be considered in your trial.

        Not for the jury and/or your guilt. If you’re starving, the judge can hear and so decide to grant leniency (or not based on mandatory minimums).

      2. Why should it be considered unless it could mean he has a right to be there?

        1. Mitigating circumstances.

          I can see it being limited to a sentencing hearing though rather than for the general jury.

          1. Mitigation is not evidence of innocence. It means you deserve a lower punishment. It doesn’t mean you are not guilty.

      3. According to John Locke he ABSOLUTELY has a right. Read Ch V of Second Treatise on Civil Government. Like it or not, there is an absolute conflict between natural liberties (or rights as they were imo wrongly called) here. And for Locke, private property rights in land CEASE when they appropriate the land itself to the diminishment of others since the land itself was not created by labor/self but by God.

        Nor was this appropriation of any parcel of land, by improving it, any prejudice to any other man, since there was still enough, and as good left; and more than the yet unprovided could use. So that, in effect, there was never the less left for others because of his enclosure for himself: for he that leaves as much as another can make use of, does as good as take nothing at all. No body could think himself injured by the drinking of another man, though he took a good draught, who had a whole river of the same water left him to quench his thirst: and the case of land and water, where there is enough of both, is perfectly the same.

        At core, everyone on Earth has a natural right to have a place where they can stand/sit/sleep. Denying that means denying them their very existence.

        1. Having a right to some place is not the same as having a right to this place. Locke left unanswered the thorny question of what place exactly it is that every man has a right to.

          1. He didn’t leave it unanswered. It is just simply a conflict of natural liberties/rights. And the state has come down fully on the side of exclusivity rights – at the expense of ‘place to sleep’ rights. And modern propertarians (specifically the Rothbardian twits) want it that way because they rather like swilling in the trough of state privilege and having the state exert its force on the poor/propertyless while pretending that they are John Galt.

            1. Yet another attempt to engage in a serious discussion with you ends in futility.

        2. That the Lockean Proviso no longer holds is the major unaddressed issue for most Libertarians.

          1. Geolibertarians at least have given an answer.

    2. Property rights or rule of law in general. Even if you couldn’t give two shits about property rights and trespassing, they’d gotten court orders and the bum continued to disregard them. And if you don’t believe in property rights and the rule of law, you should probably just be glad that they didn’t shoot the bum and eat him for dinner.

      1. But what does bum taste like and is it significantly different from hobo?

    3. Would a homeless person’s successful necessity defense constitute a Fifth Amendment taking? Arguably the state is deciding – via a jury – that private property must yield to a public purpose. However, this doesn’t seem to fit neatly into either of the usual takings categories: physical takings and regulatory takings.

  3. The issue was that a judge denied the ability for the homeless man to use “necessity” as a defense to a jury.

    I’ll never understand the tight control over what a jury can hear.

    1. Because the jury is assumed to only decide issues based on the law and relevant facts. If a fact isn’t relevent to the application of the law to the case, then letting the jury hear it does nothing but tempt them to decide the case for the wrong reasons.

      1. That should only limit the prosecution. Your defense should be whatever the fuck you want it to be.

        1. What? Next you are gonna demand some kind of right to tell the jury they can vote against the law itself if they perceive it to be unjust.

          1. The answer is yes. What do I win?

          2. The answer is yes. What do I win?

            1. I won a squirrel 🙁

              1. Evidently, the H&R squirrels will intervene if one agrees with the concept of Jury Nullification.

              2. Evidently, the H&R squirrels will intervene if one agrees with the concept of Jury Nullification.

        2. Okay, if I am charged with robbing someone, i should be able to show the jury how the guy was dishonest himself and therefore it was okay for me to rob him? By your logic I should. I don’t see it that way however.

          1. Yes, you should. With the full understanding that the jury is going to think you’re an asshole and convict you.

            1. On puppy and rainbow island maybe. In the real work, my jury might very well think robbing people they don’t like is a pretty good idea.

              1. Well then you have a really shitty jury and there is no hope for justice at all.

                1. 12 very angry men.

                  1. MEN? Triggered.

              2. On puppy and rainbow island maybe. In the real work, my jury might very well think robbing people they don’t like is a pretty good idea.

                Deal with that possibility in the jury selection part of the process. You could just as easily make the same argument if the case were decided by a judge, or a panel of judges, or a popular vote or any mortal creature short of your favorite deity.

            2. With the full understanding that the jury is going to think you’re an asshole and convict you.

              So, guilty or not, we convicted John of robbery because he’s an asshole?

              1. I could get behind that.

          2. i should be able to show the jury how the guy was dishonest himself and therefore it was okay for me to rob him?

            You could make that case and maybe it is relevant. Maybe the guy was scamming little old ladies out of their pension, and you rob the thief and give the money to the pensioners, wouldn’t that be relevant? Sure you might still deserve to be convicted, but in the interest of justice it might be better to convict of less charges or recommend a lesser sentence, versus the guy who steals for less noble reasons.

            1. That is called mitigation. And I can present all that stuff to a jury in sentencing. That all may mean I deserve a lower sentence. It does not and should never, however, mean I am not guilty of theft.

              1. And I can present all that stuff to a jury in sentencing.

                I presume a decent lawyer-type-person would, at the very least, put it in front of the judge beforehand as well.

            2. Justice, more like Social Justice.

        3. I am a cop charged with murdering someone. Hey, all facts are relevant. So, I guess I should be able to introduce the fact that the victim had a previous drug conviction. Right? I mean the jury needs to hear whatever fact the defendant thinks they should.

          1. I am a cop charged with murdering someone.

            I’m finding it hard to suspend my disbelief.

            So, I guess I should be able to introduce the fact that the victim had a previous drug conviction. Right?

            Sure. And the prosecutor, assuming he’s not in the bag for the cop already, should easily dispel the relevance of that factoid.

            1. Yeah, no jury is ever going to let a cop walk for shooting some druggie. How did you type that with a straight face because i sure cant’.

              1. You’re the one claiming the cop is actually being charged in the first place. Jury nullification if it’s to have any impact on the convictability of a cop, would serve to strip the cop of his qualified immunity that normally prevents the jury from arriving at a just verdict.

      2. I get that, but as a juror I believe part of my duty is to decide for myself what is relevant. Nullification isn’t based on the pertinent laws for the case, and yet it’s a juror’s duty to consider. And how can I be sure I’m making a correct decision if I haven’t heard everything? Fuck it, Judge John, you’ve insulted my intelligence as a juror for the last time! That’s it, I’m voting to acquit every time!

        1. Not all nullification is good or valid. Nullification where the jury concludes the law is unjust or unjust in this case, is good. Nullification where the jury concludes it just hates the victim and likes the accused, is not. Allowing defendants to introduce any facts that like inevitably will lead to juries nullifying because “the bitch deserved it” or some variation.

          1. Juries don’t always arrive at good conclusions. Putting a muzzle on the defense and giving the prosecutor a leash to pull the jury around to it’s preferred conclusions doesn’t make that situation any better from a justice perspective.

            1. No they won’t. That is why you don’t let defendants put facts before than that are not relevant and do nothing but give them a reason to make a decision for unjust reasons.

      3. then letting the jury hear it does nothing but tempt them to decide the case for the wrong reasons.

        Which is part of the basis for disqualifying jury nullification which is, or was, a vital component of the application of the common law. The legitimacy of the law is that it purportedly upholds justice, the legitimacy of the court in turn rests on the assumption that it upholds law that is a manifestation of justice. When the law is unjust, juries ought to be able to invalidate the law in that particular case and with enough concurrence from case to case, eventually the law itself ought to be invalidated too.

        So yeah, the jury should be able to hear almost any arguments from the defense. Think back to the Ross Ulbricht case where the jury wasn’t allowed to hear how utterly corrupt the investigators were.

        1. See above. You assume that all jury nullification is proper. No it is not.

          1. You assume that’s it’s improper because you think it’s icky. Yes it is proper, it’s a real thing, it has precedence, it has legitimacy, it has teeth.

            1. Yes. Juries deciding cases based on their personal and moral opinion of the victim and the accused instead of the facts and evidence is icky. If you endorse that, then you don’t endorse the rule of law. It is one thing to say juries get a say in whether a law is just. It is something else entirely to say that it is okay for juries to decide cases based on whatever prejudice they bring to the court.

              I guess you have no problem with the juries in the South that let people walk for lynching.

              1. I’m with you on this, John. Jury nullification is a great and wonderful thing when it is done for the right reasons. It is a great evil when done for the wrong ones.

              2. Yes. Juries deciding cases based on their personal and moral opinion of the victim and the accused instead of the facts and evidence is icky.

                They do that already, just to the prosecutor’s advantage. And that’s not a fair characterization of what jury nullification actually is in any case.

                If you endorse that, then you don’t endorse the rule of law.

                I don’t endorse the rule of statutory law, that’s true.

                It is something else entirely to say that it is okay for juries to decide cases based on whatever prejudice they bring to the court.

                And what is it called when you have the fanciful belief that jurors are capable of being perfectly objective in the first place?

                I guess you have no problem with the juries in the South that let people walk for lynching.

                Jesus fucking Christ. How about you Godwin me next time. If you’re going to be intellectually dishonest just go for the gold standard.

                Of course I’d have a problem with that jury. They should be ashamed of themselves. The juries I don’t have a problem with were the ones that refused to convict defendants for violating the Fugitive Slave Act, to name but one example.

                1. I don’t endorse the rule of statutory law, that’s true.

                  Then you don’t endorse the rule of law. Arbitrary rule of juries is just the arbitrary rule of man not laws.

                  And what is it called when you have the fanciful belief that jurors are capable of being perfectly objective in the first place?

                  It is called an ideal. And like all ideals it is never perfectly met. That however you just give up and stop trying to meet it. Do juries sometimes make decisions for bad reasons? Sure but they also quite often make them for the right reasons. You don’t just give up and tell them it is okay to decide for the wrong reasons because you can’t get every jury to do it in every case.

                  And I am not Godwining you. If you think it is okay for juries to decide however they want to, how can you say those juries were wrong or those cases bad?

                  1. Then you don’t endorse the rule of law. Arbitrary rule of juries is just the arbitrary rule of man not laws.

                    Rule of law=/=statutes just like democracy=/=justice. If you think statutory law is the embodiment of the ‘rule of law’ then you apparently got the sum total of your education in legal theory from that school house rock video on a bill becoming law.

                    It is called an ideal. And like all ideals it is never perfectly met.

                    And you say that without a hint of awareness about the irony in claiming that ideals aren’t perfectly met, while faulting the concept of jury nullification on the exact same grounds.

                    You don’t just give up and tell them it is okay to decide for the wrong reasons because you can’t get every jury to do it in every case.

                    The “wrong reasons” can only be classified as such on a case by case basis and if enough juries agree, then it stands to reason that the law itself might wrong.

                    And I am not Godwining you. If you think it is okay for juries to decide however they want to, how can you say those juries were wrong or those cases bad?

                    You literally implied that I think it’s perfectly just for a jury to give a free pass to racist lynchings. Just because I think jury nullifcation is generally a good thing doesn’t mean I endorse every instance of it’s use. Just as I think trial by jury is generally a good thing even though, clearly, juries don’t always get it right.

          2. You assume that all jury nullification is proper.

            No it’s not all proper. Neither are all laws proper. Or convictions by juries.

            1. Exactly. He’s judging the concept from the fact that it falls short of perfection while fully acknowledging that his preferred alternative also falls short of perfection but that’s perfectly okay.

              1. Coming awfully close to the Tulpa argument against nullification.

                As far as I can see, jury nullification is both an inevitable fact about juries that deliberate in secret and a good thing. The defense should absolutely be allowed to argue that the law is wrong, or it’s wrong for it to be applied in some circumstance, or introduce any true facts they want.

                1. And it should be up to the jury to decide which true facts are relevant and which are not. If it’s so unconscionable that juries be able to decide whether or not something is relevant, then perhaps the defendant should opt for a judge or en banc decided trial and put his fate in the hands of a perfectly god-like objective judge who is capable of forcing himself to forget these facts when making his decision, if he thinks really they’re capable that feat.

    2. I’ll never understand the tight control over what a jury can hear.

      It’s a way to vitiate the right to a jury trial by controlling what the jury is allowed to know.

      “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
      ? George Orwell, 1984

  4. Can’t we just reopen insane asylums? Many (if not the vast majority) of homeless are mentally ill. They also carry disease etc. Hell, one shanked a cop near my office last year. There is a very real public interest for keeping the homeless off the streets. Complaining about the homeless in RV’s (is that really even homeless?) misses the point that most homeless are homeless for a reason and not likely to become un-homeless. There’s just some weird argument about “it’s inhumane to put crazy people in asylums”… Which seems backwards to me, but that’s just my opinion.

    1. Basically this.

      A good part of the homeless community is full-on nuts. A ministry that I volunteer with in Tucson was set on fire by a nutso homeless guy — reason? He wanted to get out of the heat by getting sent to an air-conditioned jail cell. A large chunk of those who are homeless are not capable of life in regular society; helping them to get homes or leaving them on the streets does them an enormous disservice and places the cost for their misbehavior on the general public.

      1. and places the cost for their misbehavior on the general public

        And your scheme forces the public to pay for their incarceration, er “treatment.”

        1. I’d prefer to privatize the whole thing and legally treat those folks as something akin to minors entrusted to the organizations that take them on board, but that’s just me.

          1. and legally treat those folks as something akin to minors

            That’s how they are treated. An attorney friend does a lot of guardianship work for people who are mentally deficient.

            But you, perhaps conveniently, side-step the question of getting them into treatment if they don’t want to be there. And remember that those charity sector folks would also be financially motivated to up the numbers of people needing care.

            Ending restrictions on ad-hoc employment, and allowing flophouses is the best way to reduce this. Once those are in-place, and the high-functioning folks are off the street, then we can revisit involuntary commitment.

          2. I’m curious how you think the privatized “treatment” would be payed for. Do you really think charitable donations would be enough?

            And if not, how are you getting the public off the hook?

            1. Do you really think charitable donations would be enough?

              Enough for what?

              That is ultimately the underlying question in all of this. Who gets to decide what is or is not enough for a person to live? And who answers for the unrealistic nature of the expectations imposed by one group of people onto another?

    2. That’s what we did before. However, the asylums got closed in the 70s, because there were all kinds of abuses going on and because you just can’t commit someone against their will unless they are a threat to self or others. Haven’t you seen One Flea Over The Cuckoo’s Nest? So unfortunately that is not a solution. At least not if you want to be libertarian about it.

      1. All right, go ahead, make your flea joke.

        1. He’s one of the best of all time.

        2. Don’t worry man, it was just a *little* error.

          1. I agree. It’s not as if he typed a large scale, wide sweeping error, such as One Flu Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

        3. I mite make a flea joke. But I don’t want to jump into the circus of insults firected at you. Besides, these pun filled sub threads really tick me off.

          1. *narrows gaze*

            I see you have all run riot while I was gone.

      2. Perhaps the solution is to privatize? Government eliminates its homeless services and redirects half of the budget to vouchers for private organizations that will shelter currently homeless and also legally treat the folks staying there like wards of the organization in question.

        1. So the private organizations are responsible for the crazies? If they are given the power to forcefully contain them, are the businesses liable for wrongful commitment, or is the state?

          1. I’d give them parental rights, basically. They can be prosecuted for the same types of things considered parental abuse, but otherwise they’re the competent authority. Hell, if they can find a way to profit off the arrangement, even better — maybe people would look forward to having a homeless shelter-type org in their neighborhood instead of creating as many legal burdens as possible.

            1. And I’d make it so that any org or person who provides shelter take on that legal responsibility for however long that shelter is provided for. No involuntary commitment, but also no government assistance whatsoever for anyone who chooses to stay on the street. So if I open my house or organization up to a homeless guy and he goes out and steals something from a neighbor during his stay, it’d be legally analogous to my kid stealing something from the neighbor.

              1. … So a shoe-string budget from the government along with whatever charitable donations you can scrounge up, and you’re expected to not only provide shelter, but you’re also legally responsible for any misdeeds they commit?

                Even ignoring whether that could theoretically work, who the heck is going to even try? You’re actually reducing the incentive to do charitable work.

      3. Haven’t you seen One Flea Over The Cuckoo’s Nest?

        Well, yes, that was one side of the story.

    3. Go around and tell everyone about your staunch libertarian views and then ask them if they think you are crazy.

      1. Meh. They think I’m nuts anyway.

    4. FIrst, we would have to pay for those mental hospitals with our tax dollars, and I’m not saying we should have to but just acknowledging the reality. Back in the seventies there was a huge problem with abuse of involuntary commitment and inability to get out of the loony bin if one had actually improved. When you incentivize government employees to keep people in the loony bin all of a sudden you end up with a lot of loonies.

        1. Any fond memories, Crusty?

    5. Uhm, sure – you willing to start the charity that will fund this though? Because if you want tax dollars you’re going to have to come up with a pretty strong argument.

      Doubly so if you want to involuntarily commit these people.

      Most homeless *are* likely to become un-homeless. Homelessness for the majority is a temporary condition and those people don’t have any particular mental illnesses.

      Being homeless for a *long time* is correlated with mental illness, not being homeless itself.

      1. Doubly so if you want to involuntarily commit these people.

        Yep. Because then you (as a taxpayer) have to defend against lawsuits and often end up paying huge settlements.

    6. Asylums for people who don’t have plenty of money to pay for them are often pretty horrible places. It doesn’t have to be, but it probably is inhumane to put crazy homeless people in asylums. Do you really think that government run asylums are going to be nice, well run places?

      I don’t know what the right answer is. But it’s a tricky question. Maybe we just have to put up with crazy homeless people sometimes.

      1. It would be nice if they refrained from this shit, though.

        1. At least there is no problem with imprisoning or involuntarily committing those people.

          Convincing people to take their meds can also help a lot.

        2. We sure he wasn’t just mohammadin’?

    7. Most homeless are NOT mentally ill. About 25% of them are – and they are probably the majority of the chronically homeless. But most homeless are temporarily homeless – and many of them never actually descend to the streets since they are able to find friends/family to stay with or they sleep in their car.

      And Salt Lake City has the solution to the chronically homeless. Just build them a freaking small place to live and stop dicking them around. That is about 60% cheaper than the current solution (which ends up involving a whole bunch of emergency room visits and county jail time and shelter whackamole). And SLC has proven that, with a roof over their head and a fixed address and a bathroom/kitchen, about half or more of them can then clean themselves up, and take their meds, and even get a job.

      But you can freaking bet that property owners are far more interested in sticking their snouts in the trough of state privileges for their property than in paying to fix the problems that their private enclosure of land has actually CAUSED.

      1. I like the cut of your jib.

        Now we are two.

      2. I did a research paper for am abnormal psych class I took in 2001 and the numbers I came up with were between 70-75% of the chronically homeless were nuts, usually self medicating. The remainder rarely stayed homeless more than 3-6 months.

  5. Speaking of living in your vehicle:

    I can’t fucking stand people who store their RVs on the street. Fuck you. Put it in private storage.

    In my town, we have a law against parking your vehicle in the same spot for more than 72 hours. There was one asshole who parked his RV next to an elementary school for years. He moved it a few inches every 2 days. Until he forgot. Fucking asshole.

    1. The people who made that law do indeed sound like assholes.

      1. You think that you should be able to permanently take possession of public property to the exclusion of others?

        1. The parking area alongside my house? Yeah. I’ve gotten into a fight with one of my neighbors because he likes to park his cars alongside my house – we both live on a corner and the side of my house it across the street from the front of his so he can see them easier – instead of alongside or in front of his.

          That’s *my* part of the street. And really, I don’t care if you park an RV in front of your as long as it doesn’t cross in front of my area.

          But then again, I ain’t rich and living in an upscale neighborhood.

          1. The parking area alongside my house?

            Usually that’s still public property. You don’t have any special right to that spot unless your town has special rules.

            1. See – that right there? That’s the difference between *legislation* and *law*.

              Sure, I don’t have any special right to that spot in *legislation*, but I do in established *law*.

            2. If you’re in Philidelphia in a residential area and see a chair in the street right in front of a house, where someone might park, I suggest you put the chair in the trunk of you car and park there.

              This will work out great for you.

              To be clear: not all social norms and rules are legislated. And if you want to keep it that way, you should learn to recognize and not violate the acceptable ones.

              1. My shitty home town in relatively free Idaho does not allow you to park rv’s, boats, trailers, quads, or motorcycles on the street by your house or within 15 feet of the street. I got into it more than once with the full time ticket cop we have (in a town of 30,000), my apartment didn’t have off the street parking. Bad laws abound.

      2. I think our judgment here of Playa’s rage needs to take into account what kind of neighborhood he lives in. In an urban setting, he is probably justified. In a suburban setting, not so much.

        1. The average lot width in that part of town is 30 feet.

        2. He lives in the barrio!

    2. I am with Playa. you don’t own the street. Park your fucking RV on your own property.

    3. Yeah, if they are really just storing it there, it’s pretty lame.

  6. Lengthy court battle to stop trespassing or just shoot the homeless…hmm…wonder how this will turn out.

    (I don’t)

  7. Let us not forget the many, many ways that municipalities make it hard for the poorest among us to solve their own problems.

    http://www.sandiegouniontribun…..star-game/

    City wants to shuffle the homeless away from all star game, makes up excuse blaming neighbor complaints.

    Honestly, of all the places for the homeless to hang out, freeway underpasses are a place I’m willing to concede.

  8. Paging MNG! Mister MNG to the white courtesy lifeboat.

    1. Didn’t he die in an autoerotic asphyxiation incident a few years back?

  9. I’m for a broad power on the part of juries to consider claims of necessity.

    That being said, I’m not sure I trust the Massachusetts justice system, taken as a whole, to respect property rights.

    One would hope that (a) the jury would be allowed to consider the homeless guy’s defense of necessity and (b) would convict anyway.

    1. The problem is that if the courts won’t let a trespasser argue necessity to the jury, next thing you know they won’t let a cancer patient charged with “trafficking in marijuana” to argue necessity based on the marijuana relieving his symptoms.

      1. And they shouldn’t. That should be mitigation evidence not evidence of innocence. The problem is minimum sentences and drug laws. The solution is to get rid of minimum sentences and let judges and juries give whatever sentence they find just and to get rid of drug laws. The solution is not to rape evidence law to make “but I wanted it and he didn’t need it” a defense to trespassing.

        1. The 2004 Black’s Law Dicionary defines “necessity” as “[a] justification defense for a person who acts in an emergency that he or she did not create and who commits a harm that is less severe than the harm that would have occurred but for the person’s action.”

          So a cancer patient in severe pain could be said, by a reasonable jury, to be in an emergency – and unless the jurors engage in a lot of philosophical chin-stroking I don’t think that the cancer would be the patient’s fault in a legal sense even if, say, he was given to overeating.

          And as for balancing the harms – let’s see, there’s the pain of the patient without some method of relieving his symptoms versus the harm done by the drugz.

          I think a jury could acquit that guy.

          1. Where the homeless guy would hopefully fail is, I hope, that the supposed need to trespass in a specific establishment which he was specifically warned off of is not what I’d call an emergency.

          2. No they couldn’t because pot isn’t the only pain killer out there. They may have had to have a pain killer bu they didn’t have to have pot. I get it. You don’t like drug laws. Neither do I. But the solution to that is to repeal them not destroy the rule of law by creating the precedent that any excuse given by a defendant is necessity and absolves them of guilt.

            1. “the solution to that is to repeal them not destroy the rule of law by creating the precedent that any excuse given by a defendant is necessity and absolves them of guilt.”

              I guess you sure refuted all those people who called for acquitting every defendant who pleads necessity!

              1. You can plead necessity. But it has to actually be that. Not “I really wanted to smoke pot instead of take a pain pill”.

                1. Again, you’ve refuted all the people who said that pain patients who really want to should be able to smoke dope.

                  1. I guess my question is, why don’t you trust juries to reject bogus necessity defenses?

                    I mean, we know how emotional jurors get, amirite? Especially when it’s that time of the month, know what I mean, guys?

                    Thank God we have judges making these decisions instead of irrational jurors!

                    1. (strawmanning is fun, I should do it more often!)

                    2. And on a serious note, it’s not an either/or between abolishing the law or thwarting the enforcement.

                      Juries have a history of blocking the enforcement of bad laws (like laws for hanging petty thieves, for example) – and the behavior of juries sometimes makes legislators say “fuck it, we can’t enforce this law, let’s change it.”

                    3. I do trust juries to reject defenses. The problem here is that you have to allege facts sufficient for there to be a defense in the first place. The jury is free not to believe your story. But your story, if true has to be enough to create the defense. And your story here isn’t. Even if everything you say is true, it is not a necessity defense. It is just mitigation. So it doesn’t go before the jury until sentencing.

                    4. You were getting down into the weeds of the effectiveness of particular medical treatments – that seems like an issue of fact for the jury, no?

                    5. And of course, juries used to have the power to interpret the law until deprived of that power by a 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court.

      2. They already don’t.

  10. Councilman Mike Bonin proposed barring homeless people from “lodging” in vehicles parked by homes and schools, while allowing them to sleep in their cars and campers from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. in commercial areas and in designated city, nonprofit agency and church lots.

    While not a perfect, or libertarian-pure solution, this sounds like a good plan. With the caveat that public property should, by default, be open to them absent convincing reason and only after a designation by elected officials. This will also motivate the government to not hold as much property. If a church or other nonprofit, in an area zoned commercial wants to allow this, that is not the government’s business. SLDs: about zoning apply, but that’s a fight for another day.

    BTW, this is an issue which could earn libertarians some good publicity if we came down on the side of the homeless with regard to private property where they are welcome, and of course public property.

    1. One problem with this, politically, is that any church or group allowing homeless to set up camp will immediately drop property values and the city is unlikely to issue future licenses for such so long as these organizations aren’t willing to take responsibility from the homeless person in question.

      This problem is solvable and I think the plan is on the right course, but it would require some way for these organizations to be able to privatize both costs and benefits of taking responsibility for a homeless person, instead of socializing one or the other as we’re doing now.

      1. In my town the churches have a rotating homeless shelter thing. No, the shelters do not revolve, but the unitarians host the shelter one week, the methodists the next, and so on. That gets rid of the property values problem, but increases overall program costs as the umbrella organization had to buy buses to transport the homeless from the pickup points to the designated shelters.

        Ideally, permanent shelters, or flophouses, would be located in the industrial/warehouse sections of town where property values are unlikely to be affected.

        You keep coming back to the organizations, somehow, being responsible for the actions of those people. That’s just not practical unless they stay in the shelter 24×7, which again ups the cost of the program. Many of the homeless actually work – fast food, parking lot attendants (before that went automatic), day labor. They can often hold down jobs, but can’t deal with the complexity of permanent housing (rent, utilities, etc). Most of them just need a cheap, safe place to sleep, shit and shower.

        1. I would say that’s true for a large portion (2/3rd?) of the homeless population. The other third or so is pretty well unable to cope, and even in that 2/3rds there’s plenty of anti-social behavior that makes it difficult for the homeless to be welcome. Flophouses work great for high-functioning homeless who will only be in that condition for 1-5 years. I do think some sort of managed wardship would be the best available option for the rest, particularly lifetime homeless.

        2. Disagree re the ‘complexity’ of housing. Most homeless can deal with that. What they can’t deal with is the PRICE of rental housing because their income/jobs are marginal. And like it or not, the beneficiaries of those high rental prices are – homeowners who don’t want their home prices to drop because they have a fixed mortgage

      2. One problem with this, politically, is that any church or group allowing homeless to set up camp will immediately drop property values …

        Is it the church’s property to do with as they please, or not?

        If someone buys a place for the view, then buy the view as well.

        I prefer the private property solution – allow those who wish to be charitable to do so. As far as the necessity argument, even there, it seems “necessity” is a weak argument on private property, for an owner who is unaware or unwilling, when there’s all this public property empty at night.

        Property is private or public. Homeless people, being part of “the public”, have a stronger logical argument to public land before private property ought to be considered from some Greater Good argument heartfeelz.

        1. Homeless agencies reduce property values because crime, defacing of public property, and generally unpleasant and unsafe interactions increase in places where there is a high volume of homeless hanging out. I don’t like that it happens, but realistically it does and “suck it up, your neighborhood was always grounds for a random act of charity to make it unpleasant” ain’t gonna resolve those issues or make people any more likely to appreciate “libertarian” solutions on those lines any more than they would if I had a free range chicken farm next to your house and didn’t bother to contain the chickens when they run on to your yard.

          Tonio has a good grasp on these issues, and I think flophouses go a long way towards helping with homelessness. I also think that privatizing those social costs addresses the other issues pretty well while helping the homeless themselves.

          1. Yes, it’s a real pity when everyone doesn’t conform to what’s in your own personal best interest.

            Denver has the case of Snooze. A posh breakfast eatery opened a location close to all the homeless shelters located down off 25th near downtown. It’s reasonable to say they picked the location for those cheap property values. And then they promptly began campaigning the local downtown business association to “do something” about all the damned homeless people that were unfathomably around their restaurant. This culminated in Snooze paying considerable large sums to campaign Albert Brooks to pass a move-along law banning homeless people from the city of Denver after dark.

            Hello, Great Depression, we’ve seen you before.

            I didn’t spot Tonio’s flophouses comment, but I quite agree that market solutions are going to be our best option. Low-cost short-term rentals may not be pretty, but if they’re profitable then who are we to stand in an ambitious businessman’s way? It’s a complete win-win all around. Preventing the sensible free market solutions is what has us asking questions about “necessity” for unwilling private property owners in the first place.

            1. Don’t like the way my property looks, look the other way. I love it when property values go down, my place is paid for and I hate property (wealth) taxes.

      3. If the city is taking actions to keep property values high, then property owners should be paying extra taxes for that. That is called cronyism. And those taxes should be used to build permanent housing for the homeless – so that they AREN’T homeless anymore – and so property values no longer have their property value drop.

        This is not an issue that can be privatized because it is a free rider problem.

  11. Let us not forget the many, many ways that municipalities make it hard for the poorest among us to solve their own problems.

    A spaceman dispassionately observing these antics might conclude municipalities were actively attempting to preserve homelessness.

  12. Surely, you’re not saying we have the resources
    To save the poor from their lot
    There will be poor always pathetically struggling
    Look at the good things you’ve got

      1. I wore out the first vinyl copy I had.

        1. I understand that vinyl is growing in popularity. If so, kinnath, you might be able to find another grooved disc should you still have an operational record player.

  13. You know what might be interesting for Reason to do?

    A Hillary Clinton Scandal Watch. There are stories every few days, it seems, with tidbits here and there on her email scandal (mainly), but others as well. But, they come out in dribs and drabs. Collecting them on a weekly basis and providing some perspective and context would be very useful.

    These are the stories that made me think of it:

    Pretty effing important email about Hillary’s email and security problems not turned over to State but deleted from her server:

    Former Secretary Hillary Clinton failed to turn over a copy of a key message involving problems caused by her use of a private homebrew email server, the State Department confirmed Thursday.

    http://www.weaselzippers.us/27…..epartment/

    Big gaps in Hillary’s official SecState calendar. Who was she meeting with and why?

    An Associated Press review of the official calendar Hillary Clinton kept as secretary of state identified at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors and corporate and other outside interests that were not recorded or omitted the names of those she met. The fuller details of those meetings were included in files the State Department turned over to AP after it sued the government in federal court.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/s…..TE=DEFAULT

    1. No smoking gun RC. Anything short of a video of Hillary accepting a briefcase full of cash and telling Huma to okay the Uranium deal is just a FAKE SCANDLZ!!

      1. A fun exercise would be to see if John can go a whole week without mentioning Hillary.

        1. Another fun exercise is seeing how long you can go without ever saying anything interesting or relevant. The only downside is that as fun as the game is, it never seems to end.

        2. That doesn’t sound fun at all.

      2. People are looking for a smoking gun when there is actually a smoking crater.

        1. Can’t see the shitty forest for all the fucked-up trees.

  14. I have a few European and British friends on facebook, and many American friends who follow the news, so I logged on for the first time in ages to see what they’re saying. My God, the butthurt is incredible. According to these people, British voters, in asserting their right to national sovereignty unalloyed by a supranational bureaucracy, have demonstrated their moral and practical unfitness to lead themselves democratically. The condescension and elitism is palpable.

    1. You know what the greatest thing about that is? It shows that yes progressive projects can be undone. Time and again, Progs come up with some idiotic central planning scheme and everyone with any sense warns it will be a disaster. They are of course ignored and Progs get their scheme put into place only to see all of the warnings come true as well as many other unforeseen negative consequences. And when confronted with their failure Progs always say the same thing; “well it is just too late now and it can’t be undone, so everyone is just going to have to live with it”.

      This vote proves that to be a lie. No, it can be undone. It just takes the will to do so.

      1. First serious rollback of the Progressive Theocracy that I can recall.

        The turn of the tide? Dare to dream.

        1. Wet dream?

    2. The same people who will shout (usually misspelled) “fascist!” at the drop of a hat.

      Because you’re obviously a champion of the people when you assert that common rulership is necessary for common trade.

  15. “Look, I know it seems cruel to toss the guy in the clink for ninety days over this, but look at the bright side. He won’t be ‘homeless’ anymore.”

    1. “It’s a gated community!”

    2. “It’s a gated community!”

      1. The squirrels laugh at your puny gates.

    3. I read a story waaaaaay back in elementary school about a New York transient who makes several attempts to get arrested for a number of petty crimes, planning on spending the winter in jail. After failing to arouse the suspicions of the officers he encounters, he breaks for a moment outside St. Patrick’s, listening to the choir music, and is so moved he decides to find a job instead… and he’s promptly arrested for loitering.

  16. The homeless man in question is named David Magadini.

    A journalist did a story on him in 2014.

    1. “went on to attend the University of Iowa, where he received his Liberal Arts degree.”

      1. I don’t know if even the most progressive university would put him on the front page of their alumni magazine.

      2. “went on to attend the University of Iowa, where he received his Liberal Arts degree.”

        I’m sure the shopping cart was a graduation gift.

  17. Another factor here is that most jurisdictions have made flophouses, aka low-rent rooming houses, effectively illegal. That would get many of them off the streets. The irony is that the people who whine the loudest about the plight of the homeless are often the first to go full-NIMBY when you mention putting up a shelter or whatever.

    True Story: Late, beloved commenter JsubD who gave us the phrase “fuck off, slaver” was long-term chronic homeless. He posted all his comments from a computer at a public library. You are still missed, buddy.

    1. Wow. What happened to him?

        1. Thanks for that, PM.

        2. I just did a long, sad trip down memory lane revisiting some of the posthumous pieces about J sub D. The Detroit Free Press article by Mitch Albom, referenced in the H&R obit, is no longer up. Ugh.

          1. Tonio, I just read the comments that you and a great many other H&R commentators posted upon learning of his death (via the link Playa Manhattan provided).

            I am glad that you all had the chance to “know” him, yet I am saddened for you as well.

      1. Cancer, I think.

    2. Much respect for Jsub. He was the commenter I remembered when I read this story, too.

      1. He was a good guy. And it was a real shame. And Tonio is right about the flop houses. People have to live somewhere. Tear all of the cheap places down and they will live in the street.

    3. Yep. And the implied warranty of habitability probably leads to more homelessness (or at least increases the lack of shelter for the homeless). One can’t rent a shed to someone to use as living quarters if it doesn’t have running water, electricity, etc.

      1. The inability to kick out bad tenants leads to a lot of homeless. Pass laws to make it impossible to evict someone, and landlords just start demanding first and last month’s rent and a security deposit. Every person I have ever known who was homeless, was homeless because they couldn’t come up with the two or three thousand dollars or more it takes up front to get an apartment in most big cities.

        1. That too. There are so many ways that laws aimed at helping the homeless end up hurting them. Good intentions and all that.

    4. Late, beloved commenter JsubD who gave us the phrase “fuck off, slaver” was long-term chronic homeless

      A benefactor of mankind. May we keep his words alive.

  18. When you see some city council idiot quoted in the newspaper as being a proponent of “affordable housing” it’s about 99.9963% certain he means subsidized mcmansions for cops, firemen and schoolteachers, not trailer parks or single room occupancy hotels for shit shovelers and people who work at 7eleven.

  19. Are there no prisons? And the union workhouses – are they still in operation? I wish to be left alone. Since you ask me what I wish sir, that is my answer. I help to support the establishments I have named; those who are badly off must go there.

  20. Lockean Proviso.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.