We Need Specific, Narrowly Tailored Solutions to Homelessness | Opinion

The following is a lightly edited transcript of remarks made by Jason Rantz during a Newsweek podcast debate on homelessness. You can listen to the podcast here:

My top-line thoughts are to separate out who is homeless and why. I think when talking about homelessness, there is a tendency to treat everyone as if they're just down on their luck and they fell on hard times—which is not the case, clearly, for everyone who is homeless. Yet we have a tendency to talk about things in such a specific way, with one end goal in mind. That's usually driven by housing activists who want "affordable housing." And that means different things in different areas.

But we have to address the reason why so many people are homeless, and unless you prioritize folks who are dealing with mental health issues that have not gone addressed, or an addiction crisis, or the folks who are, in fact, in hard times, you're never going to come up with a solution that helps everyone. Each of those groups of people needs a specific solution. And I have seen the tendency to ignore the fact that we've got so many people living out on the streets because of a mental health issue or an addiction. And that's making the problem worse.

People sleep outside on a sidewalk on
People sleep outside on a sidewalk on April 6, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Karen Ducey/Getty Images

This idea that housing is a human right—it's a bumper-sticker slogan to me, because I've heard that thrown around so many different times. I don't know what it means. If you're saying that you have the right to live in the house of your choosing, and if you so choose to get that luxury Airbnb rent-free, then no, of course not. I don't think anyone should agree to that. And I think that we obviously have to respect housing or property rights of the individual who actually owns the property. This idea, though—still, that it's just about housing—ignores the actual underlying concern.

These folks were not born without a home. At some point, they had a home, and at some point, they did not. So what happened between the time of having a house and not having a house? Is it that they lost a job and then maybe didn't have the necessary skills to compete in the workforce in the industry that is popular, where they happen to live? Is it because of, again, a mental health issue that had gone untreated? Is it because of a lack of family structure that maybe made them more susceptible to not getting something treated that needed to be treated?

Putting someone who's out on the street right now—because of their mental health issue or an addiction, for example—in a home, doesn't treat why they were houseless to begin with. They're going to end up back on the streets if you don't treat that mental health issue or that addiction, or give them the training or education that they might need to get back into the workforce.

Jason Rantz is a frequent guest on Fox News and is the host of the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH Seattle, heard weekday afternoons. You can subscribe to his podcast here and follow him on Twitter: @jasonrantz.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.