It’s been a year for the books, and I keep expecting to see Rod Serling leaning in a corner of my home office smoking a cigarette – “You are now entering the Twilight Zone.”
If this year has proven anything, it’s that there are endless ways for the government to screw it up – and the travel industry is a glaring example.
If you thought communist-level mask mandates were terrible, wait until you see how our nation’s city officials have made an already bad situation even worse.
We’re all getting a bit desensitized to this whole pandemic thing at this point.
Earlier this year when COVID-19 first crossed our shores, we were ready to follow guidelines like sheep to the slaughter because we had never experienced anything like it before.
Then, as time went on and things kept getting worse, we started to see that government mandates were doing way more harm than any virus could.
We’ve gone from, “We can’t leave the house or we’ll die!” to “If we don’t get out of this house, someone’s going to die!” – all as the economy has taken a nosedive and no one believes a thing the media reports anymore.
So in the latest edition of a “Let’s see what else we can destroy in the name of public safety,” state and local officials started to dream up a plan to help “mitigate” (they love that word) the virus’ impact on the homeless populations in major cities.
Hotels for the Homeless
They say, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Who first said it I don’t know – but most of us have had our good intentions backfire on us at one time or another.
Take, for example, the idea to temporarily house homeless populations in local hotels to slow the spread of the virus.
It goes without saying that there would be a higher rate of viral transmission in homeless shelters. Space is tight, beds and cots are often right on top of each other, many homeless have underlying health conditions and little access to medical care, and common areas are shared by large groups.
It’s a horrible problem, one I’m not oblivious to.
When case numbers started to grow here in the U.S., hotels were mostly empty. No one was doing much traveling – either out of fear or state travel restrictions – and hotel chains were losing major money.
First, state and local officials started to house frontline workers in unoccupied rooms so they could stay close to work and avoid exposing their families. A good idea.
Then, they started to concoct the idea of moving local homeless populations into vacant hotel rooms. It would prevent – or at least “mitigate” – the spread of COVID in overrun shelters while providing some government funding for hotels suffering from loss of business.
Sounds like a win/win, right?
In New York, Connecticut, Kentucky, and other states, many homeless individuals were put into luxury hotel rooms – and paying customers with reservations were often bumped to the nearby hotels not participating in the “Hotels for Homeless” programs.
But the thing is, a leopard doesn’t change its stripes – no matter how positive the change may be.
Putting the homeless up in private, even luxury, accommodations wasn’t going to fix the underlying problem of homelessness in our nation.
Hotel staff saw them arrive by the hundreds with garbage bags full of belongings – and disaster relief workers became babysitters making sure they stayed in their rooms and quarantined.
The problem is, these employees were not trained for this type of thing, and the homeless were used to doing things their own way.
And at some point after so much suffering, you stop caring – so they weren’t going to social distance or wear masks or follow quarantine mandates.
And they weren’t going to kick their habits without help.
Mayors like New York City’s Bill de Blasio put the homeless in hotels in upscale neighborhoods.
So did governors who issued executive orders to pay millions in stimulus money to hotels to house the homeless while they looked for a “better” plan. And these executive orders left little, if no, room for localities to fight them.
The homeless smoked, drank, and did drugs in neighborhood parks, leaving families with no way to get their kids outside for some fresh air.
Trash piled up, including beer bottles and crack pipes, where moms would typically walk their babies in strollers.
Local taxpaying households in these communities were furious – and still are, even as many of these programs are changing to phase the homeless back into “better prepared” shelters.
Everyone has the same thing to say: This idea made a bad situation worse. So much worse.
And then – surprise – there’s California.
Are you going to San Francisco?
Ah, California – or the land of “Californication” as the Red Hot Chili Peppers like to say.
And we’d expect nothing less from the city that was known as “Hashbury” during the Summer of Love in the sixties – the free love, psychedelic, hippie capital of the world.
California’s illustrious Governor Gavin Newsom’s “Project Roomkey” was meant to help keep the homeless healthy in one of the nation’s viral epicenters.
But state and local officials must have been smoking something when they moved some of their homeless populations to local boutique hotels near nice neighborhoods and gated communities.
Not only were there problems with crowding in the streets and parks, trash, noise, parties and drug deals, but…
…local officials decided it would be a good idea to keep the pipeline of booze and drugs going to homeless addicts by providing it to them free of charge!!
Yes, you read that right. The San Francisco Department of Health even confirmed this absurd fact after taxpaying homeowners heard the hard-to-believe news through the grapevine.
Now, it’s never a surprise when government bureaucrats do stupid things, but this has to be the “most stupidest” thing ever.
So what was their train of thought here?
Well, they thought that by providing drugs and alcohol – including crack pipes, marijuana, and meth – that addicts wouldn’t leave their hotels and spread COVID around the community.
I can just see the government lackeys in their cheesy suits with comb-overs and pocket protectors escorting these people to their nice rooms.
“We’ve stocked the fridge and mini-bar. Let us know if you need any essentials, and we’ll get them to you immediately. Do you have enough spoons and tinfoil? What size crack pipe would you like?”
“And can you write a list of the things you need to create a meth lab? We wouldn’t want you to have to leave quarantine for any reason. After all, we’re here to protect public health.”
In fact, two people were arrested for doing this very thing – creating a meth lab in a formerly decent hotel room using materials provided by the local Department of Health!!
You cannot make this stuff up.
Obviously, people are not happy about this misappropriation of public funds, saying it’s bad enough these communities were being taken over without their consent, but even worse that they realized just how much government really is the problem.
Instead of making sober living mandatory while staying on the taxpayers’ dime in a luxury hotel, they added fuel to the fire of a very real pandemic – substance abuse and homelessness.
Way to go, California.
The Hotels for the Homeless program may have sounded like a good idea. Heck, it might have been a good idea – if government wasn’t running it.
Instead, people have died of overdoses, sexual assaults and drug-fueled crimes have risen, and the homeless are no better off. It’s all caused way more damage than COVID could.
This scenario would be like parents giving their teenager a credit card and permission to throw a house party while they’re out of town. What did they expect would happen?
For now, these programs are in flux all over the country.
Some communities are still feeling the effects; some have demanded an alternative with little results; some officials are thinking about their next election and transitioning the homeless back to shelters.
They’re onto the next plan for “relocation” of the homeless, addressing these folks as if they’re a problem they had no part in creating.
So, for now, do your research if you plan on staying overnight in a major city anytime soon.
Because if the virus doesn’t kill you, the politicians surely will.