(Reason) -- My office is located in a part of downtown Sacramento that the Sacramento Bee recently referred to as a "blighted and foreboding stretch of K Street." It's not that the buildings are so decrepit. In fact, with the city's new arena, there's a concentrated building boom going on around these parts. The problem is it is overrun with poor and bedraggled people sleeping in doorways and carting around their sacks of belongings.
It's really depressing, and at times dangerous. Not long ago, I absent-mindedly wandered into the middle of a fight while staring at my cell phone. A guy covered in heavy chains—like a scene from "Beetlejuice"—recently limped down the street yelling at his demons. The neighborhood is reminiscent of an open-air insane asylum. People beg. They scream. Some are desperately hungry.
This obviously is a big problem in most urban areas, which have developed decent-sized budgets to deal with it. In Orange County, California, for instance, the Santa Ana Civic Center is ground zero for the homeless population. Given the location of county offices, officials can't avert their eyes from the problem. But their approach is emblematic of governments everywhere as they remain mired in a bureaucratic worldview that is unlikely to do more than chip away at the edges of this intractable problem.
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