The Los Angeles homeless crisis has reached a boiling point and is spilling into Orange County.
Homelessness in Los Angeles County has spiked by 12 percent over the past year, and the area has the nation’s largest outdoor homeless population, while neighboring Orange County has already experienced a 43 percent increase so far this year.
But Laguna Hills Mayor Don Sedgwick said they have been doing a “better job than up in L.A.” in addressing the crisis and trying to “prevent what's been going on in L.A. from spilling down to Orange County.”
“One of the things that you need to do is prevent it from happening in the first place,” he told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on Wednesday.
“I was on the school board for 18 years and we've put together programs that not only prepare students for a higher education, but also vocational jobs so that when our students come out of the high school system they're ready to be a contributing member of society,” he explained.
But Stuart Varney pushed back: “Wait, wait a minute,” he said. “What's that got to do with homelessness with, with respect Your Honor? What's that got to do with homelessness for heaven's sake? Most of those people, isn’t it true, they have real mental problems, mental illness problems and addiction problems. Isn't that 70 [percent], 80 percent of the homeless people there?”
However, Sedgwick brushed off the FOX Business host's question and said he believes the basis of the problem encompasses the state's standard of living.
“We do have the issue right before us now,” he said. “It's so sad, with miles and miles of homeless people, that it just breaks your heart when they're regular people that are trying to make a living. But the root of the problem that no one is talking about is the high cost of living in California. And that's been caused by the liberal policies that have failed to address the problem.”
Although Varney agreed with Sedgwick, he pressed him again.
“The nature of the problem is what are you going to do to get drug addicts and ... [people with] mental problems off the streets -- what are you going to do to get them off the streets now?” Varney asked.
“You're absolutely right,” responded Sedgwick, adding that “we need to invest at least a few years in and [help] them with a hand up and not just a handout.”
“L.A. has put together $600 million in aid to just shelter and provide food while homelessness has actually increased. If we can provide the mental health services that they need, then they'll be more responsive to the vocational training in the job coaching to help them to become productive members of our society.”
Another issue that is not being discussed according to Sedgwick, is the illegal drugs that have been coming across the southern U.S. border and penetrating the homeless community.
"Now that marijuana is legal in California, the drug cartels are not shipping marijuana, but they're shipping hundreds and thousands of pounds of methamphetamines which only cost about $10 a hit," the mayor said.