I probably have better insight than most people here.
The LA area has been my home my entire life. Although I'm a bit to the south in OC, and it's not *quite* as bad here, it's fairly bad and getting worse all the time. The homeless walk past my house every single day. Our rental properties have been vandalized and broken into by the homeless. Our downtown commercial building has been broken into by the homeless, who also camp out on the roof. We have involvement with a charity involving an historical building, and a couple nights ago we had to roll out there and meet with the police because a homeless person kicked in a window (antique, historical), broke in, set up camp, etc. They have caused fires in the building, one very serious, which caused a lot of damage.
I was also a police officer for over 15 years in a jurisdiction with a lot of homeless people. Homeless calls made up 50% of our calls. Daily, multiple interactions with the homeless on every single shift. That gave me real insight as to the problems, criminal histories, where people are from.
There is a significant percentage who are homeless due to severe to moderate mental illness, mostly bipolar and schizophrenia. Although I'm calling the percentage "significant", it's maybe only about 20% of the people out there. The balance are homeless because of drugs, alcohol and laziness without an underlying mental illness.
Those with the significant mental illnesses have access to free meds, but they don't take them. Those that do take them for awhile, do much better, convince themselves that they are "cured" and no longer need the meds. They go off the meds, the severe symptoms come back, but part of schizophrenia and bipolar is not realizing just how poorly you are doing because those illnesses can really give people the feeling like they are masters of reality.
I've arranged for some of the homeless to get into supportive housing and other programs. They usually fail out due to an inability or unwillingness to follow the house rules, and they'd rather be on the street where there are no rules to follow them and they can drink and drug to their liking without penalty, because California's justice system is too overburdened and the politics of jailing homeless so distasteful to a significant portion of the population. One guy was an especially hard loss. Grew up in town, had dealt with him for years, thought he had potential, ended up in prison, got out, OD'd on heroin and died. No mental illness. I really tried hard with him.
The majority of the homeless, as I previously indicated, are there because of their like of drugs and alcohol, or an aversion to work and rules, or both. There were plenty of NA and AA meetings all day long in my city, and I always offered to give homeless rides there (they all have free gov supplied bus passes anyway), but not once did anyone ever take me up on it. That majority of homeless are from other states. When asked they will lie and tell you they are locals and grew up in California or the area, but once you run them and especially when you arrest and see their rap sheets you realize the vast majority are from other states.
There's also another problem.... Just as college students use to camp across Europe after graduation as they saw it as a once in a lifetime adventure, there is now a romanticism in a lot of young people about living on the street. It's an adventure, and nothing to be ashamed of. Movies like "Nomadland" only serve to reinforce that it's an adventure that everyone should try rather than a hardship or something to be ashamed of.
Why California? The weather. Would you rather be homeless in the Midwest where you freeze your ass off in the winter and sweat your ass off in the summer while being eaten alive by bugs, or would you rather have the temperate climate and relatively bug free climate that California provides?
The homeless problem in California may have been solvable around 15 years ago when the numbers were much lower, but now there are so many that it cannot, and will not, ever be solved no matter how much money is thrown at it.
Perhaps people aren't aware, but there was a 9th Circuit decision governing western states which indicated anti-camping ordinances are illegal unless the city can provide enough beds for the homeless population. Police can't cite people for camping in public unless the call the nearest shelter, confirm the availability of beds for that particular date, AND show that the homeless person was previously provided with local shelter information (we'd hand it out and write a courtesy notice verifying they had been given the materials so it would be in our records that someone was provided with shelter information). Most cities do not have the resources to provide enough beds for the homeless.
Then there's the issue of "if you build it, they will come". The more resources you have available for homeless, the more you attract. It's a vicious cycle.....increase homeless services because of the need, and more homeless people from out of state hear about how easy it is to be homeless in California, the more come only to find out it's a nightmare but they have no money to get back to their home state.
A contributing issue was the state's population passed a couple of ballot initiatives which made possession of all drugs in personal use amounts no more than a misdemeanor. It was frustrating when I would come across a heroin addict literally with a needle stuck in his arm, but hadn't injected yet and wasn't overly high.....and the most I could do was issue a citation. Even if you arrest/cite someone for drugs, the courts just toss it out....along with every other misdemeanor homeless crime. So....if you're a drug addict, would you rather be an addict in a state which will charge you with a felony and throw you in jail for possession of your drug of choice, or would you rather be in California where your addiction can rage out of control with no real downside?
As for those initiatives.....when people would call the police about someone shooting up in the alley behind their home or in the parking lot of their business, and all we do is issue a citation, they'd be flabbergasted as to why we didn't arrest the person. I would ask them if they voted for the propositions, and most of them did. When I told them that those initiatives changed the drug laws so that we couldn't arrest for most drug or theft crimes and could only issue citations, without fail they would state they had no idea that was what the propositions did. A completely uninformed electorate basing voting decisions based upon highly misleading political ads.
Most people in California, even the uber liberals, recognize that the coddling of the homeless has to stop. Thanks to the 9th Circuit, the coddling will continue.
I've blathered on quite a bit without putting much thought into this...don't have to, know the issues inside and out. Interested in reading other peoples' thoughts on this, especially people who live in the highly populated areas of California.