‘Snake Oil’: Housing First Advocates Sneak Attack DAs & Sheriff’s Plan to End Homelessness

A lie by omission is particularly devious

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Last week the Globe ran a Special uncut op ed by three District Attorneys and the Sacramento Sheriff stating that they can end California’s homeless crisis in one year, and that way is to end the drug crisis.

District Attorneys Jeff Reisig of Yolo CountyAnne Marie Schubert (Retired) Sacramento County, Greg Totten, CEO California District Attorneys Association and Retired DA of Ventura County, and Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper presented their “comprehensive new approach” which “takes a modest step in the direction of several progressive states which have had success combatting homelessness.”

The DAs and Sheriff say prosecutors need to have the discretion to charge hard drug possession as a new class of crime called a “treatment mandated felony.” The judge would have the final say on whether the defendant should be charged in this manner. The factors that the prosecutor and judge would consider in the decision would include:

  • The defendant’s prior history
  • The quantity of drugs in the defendant’s possession
  • The defendant’s amenability to drug treatment
  • Other offenses coupled with the drug possession such as illegal weapons possession

If the defendant is charged with this new, “treatment mandated felony,” an addiction specialist would be assigned to provide a complete suite of services to the defendant including:

  • Shelter
  • Drug and mental health treatment (outpatient whenever possible)
  • Job training

They note that several states with high housing costs have low homelessness – something which rankles “housing first” advocates who continue to insist the hundreds of thousands of drug addicts living on the streets, parks, beaches, rivers and golf courses in California would not be there if they could afford housing, even calling the drug-addicted homeless the “unhoused.”

Almost immediately after the op ed ran, the “Housing First” advocates and media sharpened their knives and attacked. One such attack came in a letter to the editor Sunday to The Sacramento Bee from a fellow who signed the letter as “Ned Resnikoff, Emeryville” – as if he’s just a guy with strong opinions about affordable housing. Here is an excerpt of his letter:

“Sacramento Sheriff Jim Cooper and Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig claim to be offering your readers a plan to end homelessness within the next year, but they’re really just selling snake oil.

The real reason why these states have lower rates of homelessness isn’t a mystery: they have much lower housing costs. The fact of the matter is that California will not be able to end homelessness in the space of a year — least of all by simply arresting our way out of the problem. To end the homelessness crisis, we need to end the housing crisis.”

Well, low and behold, it turns out Ned Resnikoff of Emeryville is the Policy Director of California YIMBY – the “Yes in Our Backyard” group, a very active political pro-housing advocacy movement. YIMBY is supposed to contrast NIMBY – the “not in my backyard” class.

Mr. Resnikoff’s LinkedIn profile is rich with his housing first credentials and activities:

I am the policy director at California YIMBY, a nonprofit that works at the state level to put California on a path of broad-based economic prosperity and create vibrant, livable, and inclusive communities for everyone. I primarily work on long-range policy planning and education for the organization.

I previously served as Policy Manager for the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative (BHHI) at the University of California, San Francisco. While there, I worked with BHHI’s researchers to assess the policy implications of their findings and educate other stakeholders — including policymakers, advocates, and the general public — on those implications.

Mr. Resikoff also says he “spent 7 years as a journalist writing for publications such as msnbc and Al Jazeera America. I also have had bylines at The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Nation, and elsewhere. My last position in journalism was as senior editor for policy at ThinkProgress.”

Mr. Resnikoff has impressive housing first credentials, AND journalism credentials – something he and The Sacramento Bee editors should have included in his letter to the editor. It’s a lie by omission, which is particularly devious.

The Globe has covered the homeless crisis extensively and agree with the DAs and Sheriff, and note that focusing only on housing rather than what’s really at the root of homelessness – drug addiction and mental illness – is merely Democrats controlling the language rather than solving the homeless crisis.

One fine example is Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, from a Globe article in March:

“In California, we are using every tool in our toolbox – including the largest-ever deployment of small homes in the state – to move people out of encampments and into housing,” Gov. Newsom said, while announcing his administration will be supplying 1,200 tiny homes statewide, including 500 for Los Angeles, 200 for San Jose and 150 for San Diego County.

California has more than 170,000 homeless transients living on the streets, and the governor and Mayors are all excited about 1,200 tiny homes.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced the state will purchase and install 350 tiny homes in Sacramento “as part of a statewide push to assist California communities in addressing the crisis of unsheltered homelessness.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe


  1. Open up the mental facilities that Georgie Brown was so anxious to eliminate! What a mess with a one-socialist party STATE – oh pardon, one socialist party USA!

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