Bill O'Reilly asserted that homeless people will "not support themselves" because they "want to get drunk, or they want to get high ... or they don't want to work [because] they're too lazy." In fact, debilitating mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and manic depression, physical and sexual abuse, abject poverty, and other involuntary health conditions such as diabetes and cancer are among the leading causes of homelessness in America; additionally, 25 percent of the homeless population is reportedly under the age of 18.
During the April 18 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, host Bill O'Reilly asserted that homeless people will "not support themselves" because they "want to get drunk, or they want to get high ... or they don't want to work [because] they're too lazy." Although drug and alcohol abuse is prevalent among the homeless, most cases of homelessness are the result of a variety of factors. According to the National Resource and Training Center on Homelessness and Mental Illness (NRTCHMI), among the leading causes of homelessness in America are debilitating mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and manic depression, physical and sexual abuse, abject poverty, and other involuntary health conditions such as diabetes and cancer. Nearly 39 percent of the homeless report mental health problems, and nearly 25 percent of them meet the criteria for serious mental illness. In fact as many homeless people report mental illnesses as report problems with alcohol use, and similarly as many people report sexual and physical abuse as report drug use problems. In addition, 25 percent of the homeless population is reportedly under the age of 18.
O'Reilly added that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has a "hidden agenda" to "force society to house people who will not support themselves." O'Reilly's comments came in response to an April 15 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that police officers cannot arrest people for loitering in homeless encampments in the section of Los Angeles known as Skid Row.
From the April 18 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: OK, and that's exactly what happened in Los Angeles. The ACLU sued, saying that the police could not arrest or remove any homeless person on the street. Sleeping on the street, blocking the street, urinating or defecating on the street or anything. Now, they sued because the ACLU knew that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco would eventually hear the case, which it did. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, as you may know, the most liberal court this country has ever seen. Its rulings are overturned by the Supreme Court 75 percent of the time. But you take it there and you'll get probably a loony ruling, a loony ruling.
Now, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-to-1 that Los Angeles' policy of arresting homeless people for sitting, lying, or sleeping on public sidewalks violates the Eighth Amendment, protection against cruel and unusual punishment, ladies and gentlemen. Cruel and unusual punishment. An estimated 80,000 homeless are in L.A. County on any given night. An estimated 12,000 homeless live in Skid Row, a 50-block area in downtown L.A., the highest concentration of homeless in the USA. OK? Now, this lawsuit will be overturned by the Supreme Court if they hear it, and I believe they will. Because, just think about it, and the, and the [Los Angeles city] councilwoman, Ms. [Jan] Perry, made a very interesting point. This could happen anywhere in the United States.
The ACLU wants to force society to house people who will not support themselves, who will not do it, because they want to get drunk, or they want to get high, or they want -- they don't want to work, they're too lazy. They say, "OK, that's a person's choice. The government should give them a house, and food, and walking-around money, and everything else." That's what it's all about. This is the hidden agenda.
NRTCHMI reported that people who are homeless frequently report health problems:
- 38 percent report alcohol use problems.
- 26 percent report other drug use problems.
- 39 percent report some form of mental health problems (20-25 percent meet criteria for serious mental illness).
- 66 percent report either substance use and/or mental health problems.
- 3 percent report having HIV/AIDS.
- 26 percent report acute health problems other than HIV/AIDS, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, or sexually transmitted diseases.
- 46 percent report chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer.
Also, according to NRTCHMI, homeless adults also have high rates of other characteristics:
- 23 percent are veterans (compared with 13 percent of the general population).
- 25 percent were physically or sexually abused as children.
- 27 percent were in foster care or institutions as children.
- 21 percent were homeless as children.
- 54 percent were incarcerated at some point in their lives.