Human Rights Over Property Rights, Vestal Says

The Los Angeles Times spoke to Assistant Professor of Urban Planning Mark Vestal for a column about the growing issue of homelessness in Los Angeles. Experts estimate that there are at least 60,000 people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles and as many as 365,000 renting households on the brink of eviction. While most Angelenos agree that homelessness is a pressing issue, they disagree on whether it is a property rights issue or a human rights issue, which makes it difficult to find a solution. “The history of homelessness testifies to the futility of trying to find solutions that average these two perspectives,” Vestal said. Enforcing property rights on people experiencing homelessness only creates more obstacles to ending homelessness. “You can’t just criminalize a condition that people can’t cure,” Vestal said. “These problems that we have created — they are all intimately tied up with the good things we thought we were making of our society.”

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