It should never have gotten this bad. Homelessness is solvable. Its primary driver is housing unaffordability (not a sudden recent increase in mental illness or substance use disorder, despite claims to the contrary), and so the solution has always been more housing, particularly for those who don’t currently have it. But California has allowed homelessness to metastasize over the past few decades. As the humanitarian crisis has gotten worse, it has become a political crisis. Homelessness is one of the major themes in this year’s campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, and a growing number of commentators have cited it as evidence that the “California dream” is dying.
Because Bay Area cities have failed to produce enough supply to keep up with population increases, lower and middle-income residents now have to compete for housing with the super-wealthy, whose ability to outbid everyone else continually forces prices up. As a result, homes in Berkeley sold for about 19 percent above asking price on average in the first three months of this year, the highest citywide average in the nation.
It’s Hard to Have Faith in a State That Can’t Even House Its People
From the comments:
@Talbot The entire country’s population has boomed from 1970–up from 200MM to 330MM. Somehow other parts of the country have been able to keep up with the growth while California, one of the richest states in the courtly, can’t manage to build new housing. I’m an attorney who makes $350K a year, and I left the Bay Ara because felt like I couldn’t afford to live there anymore. It’s that bad. I would have gladly lived in a high rise condo if an affordable one were available, but local zoning laws didn’t allow them to be built. People in CA are stuck in the 1950’s mentality that density equals poverty. It’s as though they have never seen Europe or Manhattan.
I was visiting my son in LA about 3 weeks ago. The numbers of homeless people is my greatest takeaway from that trip. I’ve been to LA many times, but this was almost dystopian in breadth and scope. Whether it has anything to do with capitalism I’ll leave to other thinkers, but eyes don’t lie, and there is something radically wrong with a place where million dollar homes are 100 yards from homeless camps under almost every highway overpass.
Andy Bales, the CEO of the Union Rescue Mission, requested a security guard accompany himself and host Tonya Mosley during their interview. And as the interview started, they came across a person agitated by their presence.
Bales says this happens just about every day, especially during the pandemic. The lack of sidewalk space in front of the Union Rescue Mission demonstrates that Skid Row is “the worst it’s ever been,” he says.
“This whole street was completely clear. But now it’s rare that you can find a sidewalk that you can pass,” he says. “It’s packed with people devastated by homelessness.”
Legal Minds Clash On How To Fix The Homeless Crisis On LA’s Skid Row
Here & Now
There are many contributors to the problem. The horrors of childhood trauma and poverty, mental illness and chronic drug abuse surely add to the likelihood that someone lives on the streets. But Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, says the primary cause of the crisis is simple: Housing has gotten way too scarce and expensive.
A few years ago, a team of economists at Zillow found that once cities cross a threshold where the typical resident must spend more than a third of their income on housing, homelessness begins to spike rapidly. When incomes don’t keep pace with the cost of rent, a cascade effect ripples through the housing market: High-income folks start renting places that middle-income folks used to rent, middle-income people start renting places that low-income folks used to rent, and low-income folks are left scrambling.
“It’s sort of a game of musical chairs,” Roman says. “And people who have a strike against them — because they have mental illness or a substance abuse disorder or a disability — are the least likely to get the chair.”
Homelessness wasn’t always this bad. “In the 1970s, there was an adequate supply of affordable units for every low-income household that needed one — and we really didn’t have homelessness,” Roman says.
How California Homelessness Became A Crisis
Planet Money, NPR
Homeless advocates, including the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and Denver Homeless Out Loud, who are bringing water and coronavirus tests to the camps, say it’s never been more obvious that Colorado needs better long-term solutions, mainly affordable housing. Sweeping the camps and booting people without homes out of downtown, advocates say, only pushes them to the underpasses, along the river paths and out to the suburbs.
People have always camped outside at night in Denver, but many of them spent their days at the public library or recreation centers or day shelters — places that have closed during the pandemic. Now, more people who are homeless set up camp and stay put all day.
Homeless camps in downtown Denver are “out of control” as the pandemic drags on. So what’s the solution?
One nonprofit counted 30 encampments and 664 tents. The tent cities are growing more persistent as Denver has backed off enforcing the camping ban.
DENVER — Anyone who drives by the Capitol can see a community in crisis.
For months, tents have filled the grounds of Lincoln Park just east of the building.
“The fact that we have a moment now where our mass homelessness is visible means that we have a moment to face reality and start working on real solutions which means housing,” said Terese Howard, an activist with Denver Homeless Out Loud.
664 tents counted in homeless camps across Denver ‘shows a picture of just how massive our homelessness crisis is’
“Corona Virus (COVID-19) puts people experiencing homelessness especially at-risk. At Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, our Stout Street Health Center staff are working diligently to provide services to our most vulnerable population during this crisis. We are in need of supplies for our staff and patients. Thank you for being a part of this effort! Shipping address: 2130 Stout St Denver, CO 80205 (Stout Street Health Center)”
Here’s their Amazon wishlist if you want to help out: