One Quarter of U.S. Homeless Population Lives on West Coast

Homeless Crisis Linked to Lack of Affordable Housing

Californians make up only 12 percent of the United Sate population, but, according to The Conversation, one-quarter of homeless people in the U.S. live in California.

In fact, homeless on the West Coast is much more visible than homelessness elsewhere because a higher percentage of people are un-sheltered on the West Coast. In California, 68% of homeless people are un-sheltered, while in New York, only 5% are.

Living un-sheltered is not only frightening and isolating but can be detrimental to both individuals’ physical and emotional health. Those without shelter live without access to toilets, sinks, showers, refrigeration for food, and more. They have no protection from extreme heat or cold or rain or snow. They lack access to medical care.

  • Eighty-one percent of older adults near Oakland, California became homeless in the Bay Area.
  • This supports the fact that most people become homeless near to where they lost their housing.
  • And this percentage of homelessness demonstrates how the high rate of homelessness can be linked to the lack of affordable housing.

According to The Conversation, “California has gained 900,000 renter households since 2005 but, lost US $1.7 billion in state and federal funding for affordable housing.” Despite the increased need for affordable housing, the funding decreased.

Nation-wide, there are only 35 affordable housing units available for every 100 extremely low-income households in need of affordable housing. In the West, this is even more severe. California has only 21 affordable housing units available for every 100 households, Nevada has only 15.

The disproportionate number of un-sheltered homeless people in the West could be due to differing government spending priorities. New York City spends $17,000 per homeless person per year on homeless services, Massachusetts spends about $14,000 per homeless person, and Los Angeles spends only $5,000 per homeless person.

While some West Coast cities seek solutions, more permanent housing is greatly needed for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Seattle has created sanctioned homeless encampments, which is a good temporary solution but does not end homelessness. San Francisco provides navigation centers and homeless shelters with added services that allow people to stay in the shelter all day.

However, according to The Conversation’s Margot Kushel, “The success of permanent housing has been overshadowed by increases in people becoming newly homeless due to the lack of affordable housing. In my view, preventing and ending homelessness will required a commitment to creating housing that is affordable to all.”

On July 25th, a Congressional Reception will be held at the Dirksen Senate Auditorium in Washington D.C. This event will allow New Jersey Residents who are working poor, below the poverty line and or impacted by homelessness to urge their elected officials in Washington to make No Cuts to Housing and remind them that Oportunity Starts at Home.

Register today to attend the Congressional Reception. Everyone needs to register even if you are traveling on your own.

Click here for more information about the Congressional Reception.

You can also follow @OppStartsatHome in order to learn more about the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign.

Follow the event with these hashtags

Would you be interested in telling your story of the impact of homelessness on your life to your elected officials at the Congressional Reception on July 25? Please contact Kate Kelly at Monarch Housing.

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