Things That Matter

He Didn’t Make The Debate Stage But Julián Castro Was On The Streets Of LA Talking Homelessness And How To Fix It

Although rules and performance requirement prevented him from joining seven other Democratic candidates on the debate stage, Julian Castro was still out delivering his message. This time he was in Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood to discuss with residents how he, as President, could work to improve the nation’s housing crisis.

The homelessness crisis facing most California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, was once again a national story this week, with the Supreme Court agreeing to pass on hearing arguments in an appeal of Martin vs. Boise, a case concerned with the criminalization of the homeless. That decision leaves the ruling of the 9th Circuit of Appeals, which includes California, in place, which argues that cities can’t criminalize the homeless unless they provide adequate shelter

So it made sense for Castro to use the opportunity to introduce the groundwork for a housing plan that his administration would put forward should he win the 2020 election.

Julián Castro met with residents of LA’s Skid Row to discuss housing issues and the growing homelessness crisis.

Credit: @JulianCastro / Twitter

Castro said he had visited previously as housing secretary, and believes that the Trump administration — which is considering using law enforcement to clear homeless encampments as part of a federal plan — has taken a hostile stance against the homeless population. As president, Castro said, he would work to reverse the administration’s decisions.

Castro is the third presidential candidate who has publicly toured skid row this year, said Lisa Marlow, communications coordinator of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a nonprofit that is tracking the candidates’ statements on housing. Vermont Sen. Sanders toured in August and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, who dropped out of the presidential race last month, visited in September.

LA’s Skid Row neighborhood has one of the country’s highest concentrations of people experiencing homelessness.

While walking along the neighborhood, which has one of the largest homeless populations in the country, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary spoke with individuals about his housing plans.

One man, who recognized the candidate and yelled out “Castro,” asked him, “What are you going to do differently than anybody else?”

The Mexican-American contender replied, according to the Los Angeles Times: “I actually put out the boldest housing plan to try and end homelessness by 2028, by creating a lot more housing opportunities for everyone.”

The former San Antonio mayor’s plan, People First Housing, declares that housing is a human right and aims to end chronic homelessness.

Credit: @JulianCastro / Twitter

His detailed plan addresses the following issues that are contributing to the growing homelessness crisis:

  • Making rents more affordable through a renter’s tax credit, increased rental vouchers for at-risk and low-income people, while increasing the availability of adorable housing through new land use and zoning policies.
  • Increase homeownership through additional government programs, increased federal lending and by holding Wall Street accountable in relation to responsible lending.

Through these two approaches, Castro hopes to put an end to the nation’s homelessness crisis by the year 2028. It’s an ambitious goal but one that many say is attainable with clear and concise tools.

Other candidates also have put out housing policy plans.

Amy Klobuchar’s “Housing First Plan” pledges a trillion dollars toward improving housing and poverty reduction. Klobuchar is calling to fund the Housing Trust Fund at a minimum of $40 billion per year. The money would go toward building, fixing and operating homes for low-income families. 

Additionally, Klobuchar calls for limiting wait times for housing assistance to three months, down from the nearly two to three years her campaign said Americans may wait on a list. The plan also calls for a new grant program for states to provide temporary support for those at risk of homelessness while they wait for housing assistance. 

The senator also proposes creating a federal grant program to help states increase outreach to low-income renters and make them aware of resources available to them. To ease issues connecting low-income renters to affordable housing, Klobuchar also calls for reducing associated fees and streamlining the application process. 

California, and Los Angeles in particular, are ground zero for the nation’s affordable housing crisis.

California’s housing crisis continues to swell, fueled by rising rents. This year, L.A. County saw a surge in the number of people sleeping on the streets, in shelters or in their cars, rising to nearly 59,000. More than 36,000 people are homeless in the city of Los Angeles. On skid row, tents and blue tarps line the sidewalks and shopping carts overflow with items.

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New Netflix Docuseries Explores The Summer The Night Stalker Terrorized Los Angeles

Entertainment

New Netflix Docuseries Explores The Summer The Night Stalker Terrorized Los Angeles

Bettmann / Getty Images

Richard Ramirez, a.k.a. The Night Stalker, spent the summer of 1985 terrorizing Los Angeles. Ramirez murdered 13 people during his reign of terror in Southern California. Netflix’s new docuseries is exploring the crime by interviewing law enforcement and family of the victims.

“Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial” killer is now streaming on Netflix.

“Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer” is the latest Netflix docuseries diving into the true crimes that have shaped American society. Richard Ramirez is one of the most prolific serial killers of all time and single-handedly terrorized Los Angeles during the summer of 1985.

Ramirez fundamentally changed Los Angeles and the people who live there. The serial killer was an opportunistic killer. He would break into homes using unlocked doors and opened windows. Once inside, he would rape, murder, rob, and assault the people inside the home.

The documentary series explores just how Ramirez was able to keep law enforcement at bay for so long. The killer did not have a standard modus operandi. His victims ran the gamut of gender, age, and race. There was no indicator as to who could be next. He also rarely used the same weapon when killing his victims. Some people were stabbed to death while others were strangled and others still were bludgeoned.

While not the first telling of Ramirez’s story, it is the most terrifying account to date.

“Victims ranged in age from 6 to 82,” director Tiller Russell told PEOPLE. “Men, women, and children. The murder weapons were wildly different. There were guns, knives, hammers, and tire irons. There was this sort of feeling that whoever you were, that anybody could be a victim and anybody could be next.”

Family members of the various victims speak in the documentary series about learning of the horror committed to them. People remember grandparents and neighbors killed by Ramirez. All the while, police followed every lead to make sure they left no stone unturned.

“Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer” is now streaming on Netflix.

READ: Here’s How An East LA Neighborhood Brought Down One Of America’s Most Notorious Serial Killers

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Julián Castro Calls Out Republican Officials And Base For Enabling Trump Inciting Violence At Capitol

Things That Matter

Julián Castro Calls Out Republican Officials And Base For Enabling Trump Inciting Violence At Capitol

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Americans are still trying to wrap their heads around the violence at the Capitol building on Jan. 6. Julián Castro is putting the blame for what happened directly on the Republican elected officials and base that emboldened President Donald Trump to speak the way he did.

Julián Castro is not mincing words about the language that led to the storm of the Capitol building.

Castro, the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for the Obama Administration, is speaking out against Republicans. Castro has been in politics with his twin brother Joaquin for years and understands the impact President Trump’s words have had. He is also not shying away from placing blame on those who enabled the president.

“I think they have different reasons [for not speaking against Trump],” Castro told Alicia Menendez, the host of “American Voices.” “For some of them, they are still trying to curry favor with Trump’s base. I put folks like Josh Hawley [R-Mo.] and Ted Cruz [R-Texas] and the other senators who continued to object to the certification of the election in that camp. Some of them also know that it would indict them. [Also] people like Mick Mulvaney, who stood by while Donald Trump was inciting hate and in some cases violence against immigrants, against other groups. So, they don’t want to face that themselves. Others truly hold the beliefs that Donald Trump holds, which are bigoted and racist.”

Castro has been raising the alarm about President Trump’s rhetoric.

In 2019, a man drove to El Paso, Texas with the sole purpose of shooting and killing as many Mexicans and Mexican-Americans as possible. The shooter, Patrick Crusius, killed 23 people and injured 23 more. A manifesto written by the shooter included a lot of the language pushed by President Trump.

According to the manifesto, the El Paso shooter wanted to stop the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” President Trump had spent months telling supporters at rallies that there was an invasion of immigrants along the southern border.

“You referred to countries as shitholes. You urged American Congresswomen to ‘go back’ to where they came from. You called immigrants rapists,” Castro said in the ad. “As we saw in El Paso, Americans were killed because you stoked the fire of racists. Innocent people were shot down because they look different from you. Because they look like me. They look like my family. Words have consequences. Ya basta.”

The riot really puts the video of Trump supporters trying to run a Biden bus off the road in another light.

During the 2020 campaign cycle, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was going to an event in Texas. While on the freeway, a cluster of Trump supporters started to try to run the campaign bus off of the road. One of the campaign workers car was sideswiped during the incident that drew criticism from some.

Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., celebrated the caravan of aggressive Trump supporters. During a rally in Opa-locka, Florida, Sen. Rubio could barely contain his excitement over the video.

“I saw yesterday a video of these people in Texas,” Rubio told a largely maskless rally in Florida. “Did you see it? All the cars on the road, we love what they did.”

After the attack on the Capitol, Sen. Rubio quickly changed his tune about the mob President Trump has incited to violence. Though, he still made excuses for some as only Sen. Rubio can do when it comes to hedging his bets to protect his political career.

“It’s something else as well to see that for some of these politicians, they had to feel personally in danger, personally in danger themselves, before they could see clearly,” Castro said in the interview. “You expect more from people in a position of public trust than that. I guess, at the end of the day, it’s better late than never. It’s also still clear that a lot of those Republicans, both elected officials and the Republican base, still will not hold Donald Trump to account for everything that he has done. To me, what that means, is that the Republican Party as we know it should not exist as a party. It needs a fundamental transformation or a different party.”

READ: Julián Castro Is Bringing Back His ‘Adiós Trump’ Shirts To Raise Money For Dreamers

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