Making homelessness a valid lifestyle choice is wrong



by Betsy McCaughey

Americans must not surrender to the new normal of squalor and urban chaos — of tent encampments, public defecation, panhandling and shouting schizophrenics.

In the aftermath of Jordan Neely’s tragic death on a New York subway, advocates and most Democratic politicians are demanding unfettered freedom for the homeless to live on the streets, even with mental illness.

Advocates are taking over subway stations and dominating the mainstream media with their demands.

Too little is being said about the needs of the quiet majority.

People who go to a job every day, operate a business or take their kids to school — all need safe sidewalks and public transportation.

Yet Democrats in the Oregon Legislature are pushing a bill to guarantee the homeless the right to sue for $1,000 if they’re harassed or removed from a public space.

Democratic lawmakers in California just defeated a proposed ban on homeless encampments within 500 feet of a school, playground or youth center.

They must think it’s OK for kindergarteners to have to step over syringes and navigate buckets of urine on their way into school.

Even after a mentally ill homeless person pushed Michelle Go to sudden death off a Times Square subway platform in 2022, the New York Civil Liberties Union continues to say, “We must not lock people with mental health issues away in hospitals” or “allow police officers to simply sweep homeless people off our streets or out of the subways so they are kept out of sight.”

New York Times opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie railed this week, “We are living through a vicious campaign of demonization and hostility toward the homeless” with “prominent voices” advocating “sweeping homeless people from the streets like trash.”

Bouie is wrong.

The opposite is true.

The loudest voices are demanding “rights” for the homeless but not for the rest of us.

The National Coalition for the Homeless opposes local laws against panhandling and sidewalk camping as violations of the constitutional rights of the unhoused.

What about rights for Pedro Morales, an Austin, Texas, small-business owner?

Homeless in Brooklyn

homeless encampment has popped up in the alley next to the building he owns.

“I have to clean up somebody else’s mess,” he explains.

Same is true of Edy Perez, who owns an auto-repair business in Los Angeles.

The homeless have set up a sprawl of tents nearby.

Once customers see that, he complains, they never come back.

Urban homelessness emerged as a problem in the 1980s, in part because civil libertarians demanded that mental hospitals be closed.

The number of patients living in state hospitals across the nation plunged from 535,000 in 1960 to 137,000 by 1980.

The mentally ill wound up on the streets.

The problem worsened when the Obama administration and homeless advocates won a lawsuit to prevent Boise, Idaho, from outlawing camping on sidewalks and public parks.

President Barack Obama’s Justice Department deemed homelessness a legally protected lifestyle choice.

Portland homeless encampment


A person who “chooses” street living, instead of shelter or hospitalization, is exposed to hypothermia, disease and crime.

On average, a homeless person survives only to age 48, losing 30 years of a normal lifespan.

It’s worse for women.

Allowing that choice is neither compassionate to the homeless nor fair to the rest of society.

Kudos to a handful of Democratic politicians who are bucking their party to press for involuntarily hospitalizing the mentally ill homeless.

Mayor Eric Adams is employing teams of EMS workers and health professionals in New York City to get the mentally ill homeless off the streets and subways and into hospitals.

Predictably, the mainstream press are slamming Adams’ policy for violating the “civil rights” of the homeless.

Portland’s Democratic mayor, Ted Wheeler, is pushing to loosen Oregon’s involuntary-commitment law, making it easier to hospitalize the homeless against their will.

Neely’s death is igniting a nationwide debate over homelessness — the only good to come out of the tragedy.

If he had been hospitalized for mental illnesses, maybe he’d be alive today.

Homeless in New York City

Seize this moment to speak up and denounce the delusional policy that protects street living as a “right.”

It dooms the homeless to short, brutal lives and the rest of us to filth, crime and chaos.


Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York. Printed with permission of Betsy McCaughey

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
9 months ago

You want this nonsense to end? Set up homeless camps on Bidens street, Obama and Clintons street. Put the camps in front of homes of our so called leaders, yes, even republican leaders too. Put the homeless in upper middle class and rich neighborhoods.Give them a taste of what its like.

9 months ago

When the White Man came to America, the American Indian lived in a tipi and migrated. The American Indian was for all practical modern purposes Homeless. Look what happened to them. They basically lost a Continent.

I find this encouraging since it’s mostly the Liberals in America who are Homeless. They will lose control of the Government!

John Vieira
John Vieira
9 months ago

It should be painfully obvious to even the ‘lame brained’ that the inmates ARE running the asylum, the fraudulent administration and ‘blue cities/states…and those that are NOT on the streets or in ‘blue’ politics ARE in the Main sewer Stream fake/lying Media…