Written by Miguel Palacios
There is no doubt that homelessness is especially problematic here in California. According to CalMatters, California has the largest homeless population in the United States. San Francisco’s homeless encampments have been likened to the slums of New Delhi and Mexico City.
Being that California has the largest population of residents in the United States, it stands to reason that it also has the largest homeless population. Yet it seems that the state is not doing enough to address this issue. The lack of accountability and transparency has frustrated many residents. Progress has not been visible and the problem has only increased in recent years.
Part of the problem is the prevailing myth perpetuated by many politicians, including Gavin Newsom, that most of the homeless population are not California residents. They assert that many of these people come from out of state for the social programs and better outdoor living conditions. However, the percentage of homeless individuals who come from out of state is insignificant. For instance, only 8% of San Francisco’s homeless residents were from out of state, whereas the remaining homeless population was either from within the city itself or from other California cities. The data for other large, metropolitan areas, like Los Angeles is similar.
Another part of the problem is that the state seems to be focusing more on temporary fixes than permanent ones. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been allocated to get California’s homeless population off the streets, but not into permanent housing. Several thousands of homeless people have been housed in motels, funded by the state’s Project Roomkey program. Even so, after leases expired, only a small portion of those that benefited from Project Roomkey had been transitioned into permanent housing. It is unclear what happened to the remaining homeless population.
With programs like Project Roomkey and Project Homekey, Governor Newsom is being shortsighted. The lease and/or purchase of motels to address homelessness only works on a temporary basis.
These measures do not help with the root causes of homelessness, and we have yet to see anything that truly does. Issues among the homeless like, mental illness, addiction, etc. are only rising. We cannot keep slapping bandaids on the major wound that is California’s homeless problem. We need a solution that will heal the wound, not cover it up.