Thursday Edition

A Texas-sized milestone for school choice. Plus: BLM is hurting BLM.

1. Is “Housing First” the Answer to Homelessness?

One of the main approaches to tackling rising homelessness in the U.S. is to focus on providing housing. (Vox)

The latest: In a new Vox profile, Mandy Chapman Semple, managing partner of Clutch Consulting, says her aggressive “Housing First” strategy helped reduce homelessness in Houston by 60% between 2012 and 2016.

  • The Clutch approach involves using public subsidies and private donations to cover rent and related costs for the homeless.

  • Clutch also emphasizes building relationships with landlords and incentivizing them with more money.

  • In Oklahoma City, the strategy helped house 126 people since launching in September 2023, with a goal of housing 500 people by the end of 2025.

  • The Oklahoma City program costs about $24,000 per person, while taxpayers spend an estimated $35,578 annually on each chronically homeless individual.

Semple: “Many acknowledge that housing is the long-term solution to homelessness, only to psych themselves out from being able to respond because of a lack of affordable housing. That is when cities chase expensive, short-term options to manage the situation or resort strictly to enforcement.”

But the “Housing First” model has its critics, who often cite the lackluster results of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Housing Only” program, launched in 2013.

  • The program aimed to end homelessness by 2023.

  • However, from 2013 to 2023, the estimated number of homeless people in America rose from 590,364 to 653,104, according to HUD’s latest report.

  • Homelessness in major U.S. cities jumped 52.7% from 2022 to 2023.

  • From 2014 to 2023, the number of permanent housing units for the homeless rose from 310,125 to 518,213.

Chart: Department of Housing and Urban Development

2. A Major School Choice Milestone in Texas

The school choice movement keeps rolling. (Texas Tribune)

The latest: Six Republican incumbents opposed to school vouchers lost their primary runoff elections in Texas on Tuesday.

  • Eleven out of 15 Republican challengers backed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a big advocate of school choice, defeated House incumbents in the primaries.

  • Last year, 21 House Republicans voted against expanding school choice in an education-funding bill.

  • But pro-voucher Republicans now hold a majority in the House with 74 members in the 150-member chamber.

Abbott: “The Texas Legislature now has enough votes to pass school choice. … Opponents of school choice can no longer ignore the will of the people. As we look ahead to the November general election, we will continue to work tirelessly to elect strong, conservative candidates who will ensure every child in Texas has access to the best education possible – regardless of their zip code or economic background.”

The school choice wave:

  • From 2012 to 2022, public school enrollment for children ages 5 to 17 dropped by nearly 4 percentage points, from 90.7% to 87%.

  • Enrollment in private schools and charter schools each rose by 2 percentage points during the same period.

  • Since 2022, 146 pro-school choice bills have been introduced in 17 states.

  • Eight states enacted laws in 2023 to implement "universal school choice.”

Related: Florida's school choice programs under Gov. Ron DeSantis have led to major enrollment increases in private, charter and homeschooling options.

  • Traditional public schools in Florida saw an enrollment decrease of 55,000 students from 2019-20 to 2023.

  • Statewide, charter school enrollment increased by over 68,000 students, and private school enrollment rose by 47,000 from 2019-20 to 2022-23.

  • Homeschooling grew by nearly 50,000 students, totaling 154,000 in 2022-23.

3. California’s Fiscal Reality Check

California lawmakers, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, have realized there’s just not enough money to cover all the social programs they want to enact. (WSJ)

The latest: The state’s Democratic-controlled legislature is scrambling to delay a $25-an-hour minimum wage for healthcare workers.

  • Despite signing the law just a few months ago, Newsom is now backtracking.

Why? California's $45 billion budget deficit is forcing lawmakers to make cuts.

  • The new healthcare minimum wage would cost California an estimated $4 billion a year in higher Medicaid costs and worker pay.

In pushing the minimum wage through initially, Newsom and company ignored health providers' warnings about service cuts and reports showing higher costs.

There’s a pattern here:

  • In another money-saving measure, Newsom has proposed cuts to portions of a program he endorsed, which expanded healthcare benefits to illegal immigrants.

  • In March, California partially walked back the state’s $20-an-hour minimum wage hike for fast food workers, exempting certain businesses.

Bubba’s Two Cents

This is a fatal flaw of so many well-intentioned policies these days. They don’t answer the question of how we’re going to pay for this stuff. And that’s exactly why our sky-high debts and deficits are a ticking time bomb.

4. BLM, Inc. Has Hurt the BLM Movement

The national Black Lives Matter organization has squandered much of the public goodwill the BLM movement gained after George Floyd's death in 2020. (Washington Free Beacon)

The latest: Tides Foundation, a left-leaning philanthropic group, raised over $33 million for Black Lives Matter during the 2020 George Floyd protests.

  • From 2020 to 2022, Tides transferred nearly $9 million to Black Lives Matter Grassroots, an offshoot of the national BLM organization.

  • That money has seemingly disappeared and Tides is refusing to release the rest of the cash it has raised.

BLM’s finances have faced scrutiny for years, even from left-leaning news outlets like The New York Times and the Daily Beast.

  • Tax filings from 2020 to 2022 showed just $30 million of the $90 million donated to BLM went to charitable causes or organizations.

  • $22 million went toward expenses, which included $1.6 million in security services fees for the father of BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors and $2.1 million in consulting payments to a BLM board member.

  • Companies owned by Cullors’ relatives received $1.8 million from BLM.

Local BLM chapters have long complained that poor financial management by the national organization has left them underfunded.

Daily Beast contributor Ernest Owens: “At a time when resources are scarce and there appear to be more problems than solutions, it’s time for us all to remember the importance of local grassroots efforts that have always empowered the people and politics. If the power is truly to the people, so should the funding—and such funding should never fall onto $6 million mansions and VIP parties, but on the ground where the people are.”

5. The Age of Doom and Gloom

A number of recent polls reveal a whole lot of pessimism in Americans’ general outlook. (Semafor)

A new poll of young voters conducted by Blueprint: 

  • 65% believe nearly all politicians are corrupt.

  • 64% think America is in decline.

Blueprint pollster Evan Roth Smith: “Young voters do not look at our politics and see any good guys. They see a dying empire led by bad people.”

A Hart Research/Public Opinion Strategies poll for NBC News:

  • A record-high 73% of voters say America’s "on the wrong track."

Bruce Mehlman of Mehlman Consulting: “Perceived disorder is driving discontent. American voters sense things are out of control.”

A recent Washington Post analysis of YouGov survey data found the public thinks a lot of things (crime, the economy, morality, political division, etc.) have never been worse.

While there are areas of decline, overall, there’s a strong case to be made that we’re much better off now compared to past decades.

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