Bushvilles Rising in California

Really sad story about the surge of homelessness in Fresno, California where they’re “dealing with an unhappy deja vu: the arrival of modern-day Hoovervilles, illegal encampments of homeless people that are reminiscent, on a far smaller scale, of Depression-era shantytowns.” There are people living in tool sheds. Hilzoy remarks:

The tool sheds are made available by a local non-profit. They’re those little prefab sheds, maybe 8×10 feet. I’m glad Doug Brown can stay in one. But I wish I didn’t have to read, about someone who has skills and is willing to work: “He shares his tool shed with another person.”

Honestly, though, it’s worse than that. Not only does Brown have the desire and ability to do paid work, but it’s not as if there’s some shortage of houses in California that people could live in. There’s enormous over-capacity.

This is the sick tragedy of an economic downturn. If people had the money to move into those houses, then the process of doing the moving and the furnishing would provide jobs for other people. And with those jobs, people would have more money and could afford to move into houses and buy furniture and so forth. This is the cycle that all these economic interventions is meant to break.