America Needs to Deal with the Homeless Crisis Now

The shortage of affordable housing across America; and the problem of homelessness, it generates are getting worse. To make matters worse neither Congress nor the President is willing to acknowledge or deal with the shameful catastrophe

The epicenter of the crisis is Los Angeles County; where homelessness increased by 23% in 2016, according to The LA Times. Data gathered by the Los Angeles Homeless Authority shows the extent of the problem. Some disturbing numbers about homelessness in the nation’s second largest city include:

  • There were 34,000 homeless people in Los Angeles in 2016.

 

  • More than two million families in Los Angeles and Orange counties spend more than 30% of their income on housing.

 

  • Housing prices in California increased by 30% between 2000 and 2015 even though average incomes remained the same.

 

  • The average rent for a one bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is $1,995; nearly $2,000, a month.

 

  • The average rent for a two or three bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is now $2,416 a month.

 

  • The number of homeless people in Los Angeles County increased by 17,000 in 2016.

 

  • The number of homeless veterans in Los Angeles County more than doubled. Rising by 57% to 4,828.

 

  • The number of homeless families in Los Angeles increased by 30% in 2016.

 

  • The number of homeless people with a disability or mental illness in Los Angeles increased by 20% in 2016.

 

  • The fastest growing group of homeless was the young. The number of homeless people between ages 18 and 24 on LA’s streets increased by 64% in 2016.

 

Trump Budget will make Homelessness Worse

The horrendous situation in Los Angeles would get far worse if Congress approves President Trump’s budget.

The president would effectively throw hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets by cutting $2.4 billion from rental assistance programs and $2 billion from public housing, Think Progress’s Alan Pyke charged. Pyke called Trump’s budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) a “mass eviction notice for the poor.”

Pyke thinks up to 15 million people might suffer if Trump and HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson (who unlike the president has absolutely no experience in housing or real estate) get their way. To make matters worse Carson has lied about the cuts he plans to make to Section 8 (federal rental assistance), the doctor claims he only wants to cut $300 million from the program. Barbara Sand of the Center on Budget Policy Priorities estimated the real amount of the cuts at $2.4 billion.

If that was not bad enough Congressional Republicans want to eliminate the National Housing Trust Fund; which is dedicated to providing housing for the homeless, Think Progress reported. Congress has also cut the funds to the HOME Investment Partnership Program that funds the construction and remodeling of affordable housing by 50%.

If Trump’s budget and Congressional Republicans’ plans, become reality the terrible conditions in Los Angeles will be seen nationwide. Cities like Chicago will find themselves swamped by a tide of homelessness like that in LA.

Democrats Pledge to Fight for Affordable Housing

Unlike Republicans, Democrats have pledged to substantially increase funding for the National Housing Trust Fund in their party platform. Democrats; like Austin Songer, have vowed to create new initiatives to increase the supply of affordable rental housing.

Democrats want to expand programs to prevent eviction, build affordable workforce housing, increase investments in public housing and increase funding for housing vouchers and rental assistances. A key aspect of the Democratic program will be increased funding for programs that help low-income families, the disabled and veterans.

The best way to deal with the housing and homeless crises is to elect a Democratic Congress. Without a Congress committed to providing affordable housing to all Americans; the homeless problem will get far worse, and the crisis on the streets of Los Angeles will be repeated on every street in America.

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