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Homelessness and Housing in California

California has recorded a significant increase in the rates of homelessness since the 19th century. The state’s rapidly growing economy has attracted many people to the region, causing hardships in purchasing or renting a house. This has made people look for alternative means of shelter, which are not worthy of human living. One of the significant factors contributing to the high rate of homelessness in California is the challenges experienced in treating people suffering from mental illnesses and illegal substances. However, real estate in California is expensive; thus, people do not have enough resources to afford to contribute to the social issue. There is a need for California to change some of the existing housing policies by simplifying the registration process and providing more resources for developing affordable housing programs.

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The number of people experiencing homelessness in California has increased significantly over the years. In January 2020, California had about 161,548 individuals who did not have permanent residence, with a high number of young adults and veterans (Ohanian). Many students in public schools experience homelessness, with some of them having no shelter at all. The pandemic has also significantly contributed to an increase in people without a home in California. Many residents lost their jobs and thus did not have adequate funds to cover their housing needs.

The high rate of homelessness has been attributed to the high prices of renting or purchasing a house in California. California is one of the states with income inequality among the population hence the inability to afford houses. By February 2021, the median rent for a house in California was close to 2000 dollars, while the price of purchasing a house was 700,000 dollars (Ohanian). A resident in California needs about 100,000 dollars to qualify for appropriate housing. Wages in California are higher than in other states, but many of the residents cannot afford quality housing. The high rate of housing in California has caused many young adults to move to other regions with lower costs. Housing in California causes great financial distress to individuals residing in the state, indicating a great need to reduce the costs.

The lack of treatment for people experiencing mental illnesses and suffering from substance abuse has also contributed to the housing problem in California. About a quarter of the people without a permanent home in the state suffer from severe mental health problems. Lack of proper care for the people makes it hard for them to have a proper residence; therefore, they are on the streets. The government also does not provide funding for mental healthcare, with Medicaid having a limit to not paying for mental disease treatment in institutions with more than sixteen beds. This shows a lack of adequate resources to be used in taking care of people with mental health illnesses. California should consider allocating more resources toward treating such people since it will help minimize the homelessness problem experienced in the state.

Victims of domestic violence and formerly incarcerated persons contribute to the increase in homelessness in California. Women in the state who experience domestic violence are more likely to face housing problems than other women. Former prisoners are also likely to experience homelessness since they experience discrimination in the housing market. A prison history also enhances ineligibility in public housing programs. Such people end up looking for shelter in emergency homes or end up on the streets. This shows that there is a great need to establish strategies to help ensure formerly incarcerated persons have easy access to quality housing.

Over the years, California has increased the funding allocated to strategies to eliminate the state’s housing problem. California allocates federal and state money to local governments in the region to fund programs used to address the housing problem. Local governments have resulted in leasing hotels and motels to offer housing to homeless people after the onset of COVID-19. In 2021, California had a budget of about seven billion dollars to fund thirty housing programs. Despite the many funds allocated by California to its local government to address the housing problem in the state, positive results are yet to be achieved.

The establishment of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is one of the most successful means that can be used to address the issue of homelessness in California. Neighborhood factors do not contribute to the challenges experienced by California residents in finding appropriate and affordable housing. Many of the residents do not have a ladder into the labor and housing markets and thus have to look for alternative means of shelter. California should consider eliminating the regulations established on housing supply in the state to ensure that residents have access to affordable housing. This will eliminate the need for the state to increase its spending to come up with affordable housing units for the residents.

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California has proposed several policies aimed at helping to eliminate homelessness, which has proved to be a significant social issue in the state. The state seeks to establish a ten billion dollar housing bond to be used to develop affordable housing in the region. This will help to ensure that even low-income earners have enough funds to get quality residences. The state also seeks to eliminate exclusionary zoning, which limits the construction of tall buildings with many housing units. Allowing the construction of tall buildings will increase the number of available housing units in the state. California is also laying out strategies that will allow funds saved from prisons to ensure that people who finish their sentences get appropriate housing. However, implementing the policies described above will require the state to increase the funds allocated to address the homelessness problem. Spending more on the development of affordable housing in the region will help to reduce the high costs that result from a lack of appropriate housing.

In conclusion, California has to reconsider some existing housing policies to make the registration process more accessible and increase the funding allocated to eliminate the problem. The high costs of renting or purchasing a house have contributed to the housing problem in California. The high number of people suffering from mental illnesses and substance abuse in California contributes to homelessness. Domestic violence and having a prison history are other factors that increase the possibility of a person being homeless. Even though California has increased the funds allocated to address the housing problem, many people still do not have access to quality and affordable housing. The state has leased hotels and motels to house homeless people in the region. California should consider eliminating the housing problem to limit its consequences on the population.

Work Cited

Ohanian, Lee E. “Common-Sense Policy Reforms for California Housing“. Cato Institute. Web.

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