The homelessness crisis is so bad that cities have their own homeless camps now, from Oakland, New York, Los Angeles and the list goes on. Homelessness is rising. And it’s not a surprise when California has the 3rd highest rents in the country and when an average 1br apt in our 34th Congressional District costs over $2000/month but when the median income for a family of 4 is $37,0000/year.

In 2019, homelessness in the U.S. increased for the second consecutive year. Although some subpopulations are declining, overall more and more Americans are facing life in shelters or on the streets. Even in our district, our neighbors are experiencing homelessness in Skid Row, DTLA and Koreatown, to say the least of all areas. And people without homes have no health care even though they suffer from the same illnesses as other individuals, but at rates around 4-5 times higher.

Even with those who currently have housing in our district, many of them/us live month to month, not knowing how they’re/we’re going to be able to pay the next month’s rent. What do we do about this? Obviously, it’s a bigger issue connected with the 30-year wage stagnation, the government’s prioritization of profit over people, and much more, but at least in the area of housing, there are certainly ways we can immediately seek to address head-on because every decision by the government is a life or death matter, especially those who don’t have healthcare and housing.

 

1. End Homelessness Now

Homelessness needs end. Now. And before we even talk about ways to remedy and/or prevent, let’s first talk about the current situation where actual human beings are living on the street with no housing. Imagine that! Imagine yourself (and I’m sure some of you may currently be without housing, or have had experienced it before) without housing. So, now think about our neighbors, our family, us, in the streets – we really need to care for each other as loving Americans and do what we can to lift each other up! And that means providing immediate housing to the homeless right now through subsidized “housing first” type apartments/units (permanent supportive housing) and then linking the homeless to support services such as financial workshops, mental health, therapy and job training, either on-site or in the community. We can build upon the success of NYC’s “housing first” approach to end street homelessness. To do that, we also need to:

2. Invest into Building More Permanent Supportive Housing - in certain areas where the housing crisis is full blown as doing so is choosing a cost-effective solution to the homeless crisis where both affordable housing assistance and vital support services are provided for individuals living with mental illness, HIV/AIDS or other serious health problems – this costs less than other forms of emergency and institutional care, and the 1990 City-State “New York/New York” Agreement is a good example where homelessness was tremendously reduced and saved taxpayer dollars that would have otherwise been spent on costly shelters and hospitalizations.

Further, provided the current housing crisis, we also need to:

3. Invest into Building More Affordable Housing Directly and through Strategic Partnerships – Provide incentives to states and cities for executing affordable housing for the middle and low income working classes as even in the past 2 years, just in LA, over 90% of all new housing built were intended for high income earners.

4. Extend tax benefits to working and middle-class homeowners, expand low income housing tax credit, and provide refundable tax credits to working class families and individuals who live in rental housing and pay more than 30% of their gross income for year on their rent including utilities – after qualifying based on a determination of total amount spent on rent, the annual income, and a rate of the federal government’s established fair market rent control.

5. Work with States in Promoting Awareness of, Preventing and Reducing Eviction Statewide - while also talking about our 30-Year Wage Stagnation and our increasing income inequality head-on as these are ALL interconnected. Certain guidelines must be set as to the number of luxury housing units v more affordable ones, and this can be done through thoughtful, strategic discussions on the federal, state and local levels.

6. Prohibit all federal, state and city elected officials (like our current Congressman) from accepting money from real estate developers – Housing in the U.S. has become a playground for rich, corporate real estate developers, a land where profit is so much more important than the American people, and this must stop now. We cannot continue to have small businesses, working families and individuals pushed out from places they’ve lived at and called home for years, simply because they couldn’t keep up with the rising costs and influx of luxury real estate developers moving in causing such rising costs.