Ex-Skid Row drug addict slams California’s politicians for not ‘incentivizing people to get sober’
A former homeless drug addict said that California’s current political class is failing to help the large and growing population of homeless drug addicts living on the streets of Los Angeles in record numbers.
Jared Klickstein, a recovering drug addict who spent time living on Skid Row and in prison, told Fox Host Jesse Waters that California politicians are getting the issue wrong.
‘People need to be incentivized to get sober. And right now they’re being incentivized to kind of do whatever they want – do fentanyl in the streets, commit crimes to support their habits – and it’s just not going to fix anything,’ he said.
Jesse Watters (left) speaks with Jared Klickstein (right: old image of Klickstein) about his time as a drug-addicted homeless man living on LA’s Skid Row
One of the reasons homelessness in Los Angeles is, according to Watters, up 20%, is that the politicians who brainstorm legislative and policy solutions misunderstand the root cause of addiction that many among the population are experiencing.
‘I think that the people that are in charge are coming with compassion, but what they’re doing is not working,’ Klickstein said.
There are at least 69,144 homeless people in Los Angeles County currently, according to data from the city of West Hollywood. That figure is nearly double the number – 36,165 – recorded less than five years ago in 2019.
He said that he got off Skid Row when he was arrested and served six months in county jail, which allowed him to kick the ‘physical’ side of addiction.
‘But see, a big component of addiction is the mental addiction. So jail didn’t really do that for me. So what I’m proposing is maybe mandated long term treatment – 1 to 2 years of treatment where we treat psychiatric issues, job training, you know, prepare people for a life that’s worth living when they get out,’ he said.
He attested to the fact that some addicts need to hit rock bottom before they can get and stay clean, though he said he is not advocating for throwing all drug-addled Skid Row dwellers in prison.
He told Watters that the government programs that use taxpayers’ dollars to hand out housing vouchers are ineffective because they are not responding to the addiction aspect of the issue.
‘If you’re homeless because you’re impoverished, maybe that helps. But we’re seeing the vast majority of these homeless people on the streets of urban centers like Los Angeles and San Francisco, these people are addicted to fentanyl and meth,’ he said.
Homeless people are seen in Los Angeles, California on December 20, 2022
Nicole Ginsberg, 51, and her dog Lilly Day wait to see if they will be offered housing while living on 3rd Street in Venice on January 13, 2023
Eric Freeman, 59, cleans up the sidewalk in front of his tent during a pause from the rain storm in Skid Row where he has been living homeless, off and on, for the past 30 years in downtown Los Angeles
California Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced another multi-billion dollar investment into solving the state’s radical homeless problem.
Karen Bass, who recently won a contentious mayoral election, has also promised to fight tooth and nail to end the city’s homelessness issue.
Homelessness, and especially homelessness with the added facet of severe drug addiction, presents a significant issue for many major metropolitan areas in the US right now.
Especially in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the drug-addled homeless populations have all-but overtaken entire areas of the cities, making it hard for people to run businesses and parents to feel comfortable with their children walking to school.
Late last year, members of the Los Angeles City Council voted to stop homeless people from setting up their tents within 500 feet of schools in the city.
City council member Joe Buscaino went on the Dr. Phil showed up around the time of the announcement to defend the measure.
He said, ‘No child in America should be afraid to walk to school, and what we have found in Los Angeles [is] is kids are afraid to walk to school.
‘They tell their parents they have to step over needles, human waste, and deal with individuals unfortunately suffering from psychotic behavior – right next to their playground area.’
The politician told Dr. Phil that his legislative agenda is not driven by hatred or bigotry toward homeless people, but rather the need to protect the vulnerable in his community.
Homeless men on Skid Row are seen in Los Angeles in December, 2022
A man sweeps outside makeshift tents as workers clean up a homeless encampment across the street beneath the 101 overpass and Cahuenga Blvd.
It’s not a crime to be homeless, but these are sensitive spaces we have to protect, the most sensitive spaces among us. Playgrounds, beaches, libraries, parks – and have some accountability for those who are in these spaces,’ he said.
On his office’s website, Buscaino advertises to his constituents the ability to report a homeless encampment directly to the city. Most encampments are illegal, though Democratic politicians are often hesitant to decamp anyone.
Over the past year, the camp residents have become increasingly bold, putting up full-sized tents and cordoning off entire streets, much to the chagrin of outraged locals.
Some evidence even suggests residents of the pop-up camps are siphoning water and power from the city.
The aggression of the city’s homeless population increased during the pandemic, as was the case in virtually all other major metropolitan areas. Like many other liberal-run cities across the country, LA has become a den of debauchery and crime and its path forward is unclear at best.