Nothing Ends Homelessness Like a Home

To End Homelessness in San Francisco and Across the Country, an Increased Federal Investment is Critical

On October 3, 2019, Democracy Now aired a story, “’Nothing Ends Homelessness Like a Home:’ Advocates Slam Trump’s Attack on San Francisco and Homeless People.”

While President Trump continues to attack Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s home city of San Francisco and the state of California about its growing homeless problem, he fails to acknowledge and address the actual causes of this nationwide problem.

The claim that San Francisco’s homeless population causes water pollution is the city is false and distracts the conversation from the real problem and its root causes. HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s assertion that homelessness is a local and state problem is false. While the problem is visible on many city streets, the causes of the problem stem from causes at the national level.

San Francisco and the nation’s growing homelessness crisis is the result of significant disinvestment in affordable housing and homelessness assistance on the part of the federal government. In the Democracy Now story, elected officials and advocates share their perspectives and expertise about the problem of homelessness and how it can be solved.

The city’s annual point-in-time count tracks the numbers of homeless in the city in a very similar way that NJCounts annually conducts the state-wide count of the homeless. Monarch Housing coordinates the annual NJCounts.

Pure and simply, local homeless advocate Paul Boden reminds us that “we all know that nothing ends homelessness like a home.” Boden tells us that “We now spend $54 billion a year, in 2004 constant dollars, less on affordable than we did before the homeless crisis kick in in the early 1980s. Restore that funding, look at the cause and effect of eliminating that funding, and you’ll see the numbers of homeless people go way down.”

Without the federal governments investment in what we know ends homelessness – affordable housing – big cities such as San Francisco, along with smaller cities and communities, cannot be expected to solve this problem along. And the Trump administration has continued to slash the HUD budget.

The growing affordable housing crisis in cities like San Francisco is exacerbated by the demolition of public housing units that were not replaced on a one for one basis and gentrification which is forcing low income renters out of homes such as single room occupancy (SRO) apartments that were once affordable.

Without opportunities for homes that are affordable, those experiencing homelessness are forced to live in their cars, outside or in shelters that in most places are bursting at the seams. Low-income indivdiuals with disabilities, seniors, and veterans are among those who have hardest time finding homes they can afford. Even if individuals are working, if you are only making minimum wage, affordable housing is most likely out of reach. Affordalbe housing is the answer – “Nothing ends homelessness like a home.”

Policing individuals experiencing homelessness and forcing them move from place to place and homeless encampment to homeless encampment is not a solution.  At the Congressional Reception in Washington DC in July, we shared our Federal Policy Priorities with our elected officials in Washington.  These priorities around Housing & Services, Medicaid, Affordable Housing, Fair Housing, and Housing Development offer solutions at the federal level.