California Responsible for the Nation’s Rise in Homelessness: Report

Paula Liu
By Paula Liu
December 21, 2019USshare
California Responsible for the Nation’s Rise in Homelessness: Report
Items belonging to the homeless sit along the edge of Central Park's north end in New York, New York, on September 18, 2019. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently released a report stating that there was a 2.7 percent increase in homelessness in the country, and much of it was driven up by California, according to multiple reports.

According to the Associated Press, the number of homeless people back in January 2018 was 553,000, and at the beginning of 2019, that number had risen to around 568,000. In the report, that increase of homeless people was attributed to the 16.4 percent increase in California’s population of homeless people “entirely,” the Associated Press reported.

“As we look across our nation, we see great progress, but we’re also seeing a continued increase in street homelessness along our West Coast where the cost of housing is extremely high. In fact, homelessness in California is at a crisis level and needs to be addressed by local and state leaders with crisis-like urgency,” said Ben Carson, the Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary, according to the news outlet.

Of the homeless population, around two-thirds of them were living in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs, or other locations, according to the Associated Press. However, that still left a little more than one-third of the homeless population who weren’t living under government-sanctioned areas or suitable shelters—living in abandoned buildings or locations that were generally unsuitable for human living standards.

Forbes reported that according to experts, the reason why California was home to so many homeless people was that the state had made housing almost unobtainable. Los Angeles Times reported that it conducted a survey in conjunction with the Los Angeles Business Council Institute. They concluded that 49 percent of people thought that homelessness was due to the lack of affordable housing for people whose work wages couldn’t keep up with the high cost of living demands. On the other side, 26 percent of the people concluded that homelessness was a result of personal actions, the survey found, according to the Los Angeles Times.

However, when asked, 90 percent of the people agreed that mental illness and substance abuse were also significant contributors to the number of homeless people and that there should be facilities that could bring help to these people.

Similarly, Fox News reported that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors proposed to bring back a program that would allow the city to give treatment to those who were suffering from serious mental illness as well as drug addictions. The program was voted back with10 for and only one against in June 2019.

Among those states that had the highest homeless population were New York, Hawaii, California, Oregon, and Washington, according to the Associated Press.

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