Homeless in California

Published: 2019-10-16 07:30:00
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Henry, M. et al (2014). Annual Homeless Assessment report (AHAR) to Congress. The department of Housing and Urban Development.

This report highlights the numbers in detail in regard to the state of homelessness in California. The authors of this report have explained and provided point in time estimations of real state of homelessness in California. The main strategic plan is to prevent and end the chronic homelessness issue among families, youths, veterans and children. The actual survey is conducted in the month of January every year, then analyzed for presentation to the congress. This research was carried out in a span of one week to find out the real situation on the ground. The report gives an overview of how the issue is handled on the ground, the way forward to implementation of the suggestions and recommendations towards the homelessness issue.

Homes not handcuffs: the criminalization of homelessness in U.S cities. (2009) A report by: the national law center on homelessness & poverty and the national coalition for the homeless.

The crisis of homelessness among citizens has been eminent and has escalated into a crisis thus worsening over the years, this is fuelled by the current economic crisis as well as the foreclosure issue among the people. The foreclosure crisis has affected a lot of people especially those in rental properties resulting to evictions and increase in the total population of those rendered homeless. This burden weighs down on the local service providers of California.

With the rise of this population comes rise in crimes and safety issues. The authorities put in measures to use the criminal justice system to deal with those living on the streets and areas not meant for human habitation. The criminalization measures put in place to help curb the homelessness crisis end up being counterproductive. These measures take different forms that makes the life of the homeless unbearable, for instance the enforcement of legislation that prohibits sleeping or sitting and storing personal documents in public spaces.

Some enactments go further and prohibit the sharing of food with the homeless in the streets and what they term as public spaces. This makes it difficult for different charity groups to attend and offer services to the homeless in fear of being found on the wrong side of the law. With introduction of the criminalization measures against the homeless comes extra charges incurred by the cities, such include deployment of extra police officers to ensure these measures are enforced and anyone breaking taken into custody.

For example in Los Angeles, California in September 2007 a report released showcased the excess use of funds up to $6 million to pay for extra law enforcers as part of an initiative that ensures safety of the people and curb crime rates especially at night. Most of those caught were said to be loitering, jaywalking, but in real sense these were homeless people looking for a place to rest.

There has been reservation by some cities about criminalizing the homeless, instead of following suit what every other city is par taking they have chosen an alternative that is more constructive. These alternatives include running programs that help the homeless through getting them part time jobs and homes that with time get to keep, in the end everyone will be satisfied as there will be no people on the street and the formerly homeless will have improved their standard of living thanks to these initiatives. It is recommended that instead of putting up criminalization measures against the homeless every group in the cities should par take in positive solution finding.

These include business groups, the local government as well as the law enforcement officials, together with the homeless people and outreach groups should work together to provide a lasting solution to the crisis instead of making others feel inferior. Resources have to be invested and cities need to come up with better housing projects to accommodate these people. Business groups need to stop pointing fingers and step in to help by providing job opportunities to these homeless people. In the end everyone will be satisfied and no one will be in the streets.

Applied Survey Research (ASR) a nonprofit Social Research Firm, (2015) San Jose, Homeless Point in Time Census &Survey Comprehensive Report

As a result of the high prevalence of homelessness in California, San Jose, every two years communities conduct surveys in order to have an account of their homeless populations. The survey conducted by communities in San Jose helps them collect important information from individuals and families termed as homeless. That is those sleeping on the streets, cars, abandoned buildings and areas not suitable for human habitation.

The findings were submitted to the US department of housing and urban development for application of funds for rehabilitation. These reports help the government keep records of the state on the ground about the issue of homelessness and find solutions to existing problems.

From the report it is discovered most of the homeless are unsheltered, that is they reside on the streets in abandoned buildings, in tents and cars. They attract a 69 per cent of the total number. Following demographics collected from the survey the age of most homeless is between 51-60 years that and 41-50 years that take 29% and 25% respectively. Report covers causes of homelessness to those affected. Some said they could not afford rent, lack of employment opportunities thus resulted to having no source of income. Some could not afford the moving charges that come with evictions thus opted to leave their possessions and live on the streets. Lack of availability of houses and others just state no transportation.

Hunger and homeless survey, (2008) a status report on hunger and homelessness in Americas cities. A 25 city survey

Earlier on stated by other authors, every city in the US conducts a Point in Time survey and presents the report to the United States of America department of Housing and Urban Development. Following the aforementioned report, a conference by the mayors is conducted to find out more about the status of the cities. Under this particular conference, the survey too place in December 2008 with 25 cities under scrutiny. One of them being California.

In the report there is unmet needs for shelter as the demand for shelter surpasses the capacity to accommodate people on certain nights. For this reason most cities have set up policies to encourage increment of bed capacity especially periods when the demand is high. The prevalence of homelessness in California seems to be increasing by the day as a result of several reasons, which were explored. To some level it is believed that homelessness does not just occur overnight, rather some people become homeless as a result of a short life crisis that befell them and not as their chosen way of life.

Of the total number of homeless, some exhibited characters that were severely mentally disabled. Some were victims of domestic violence especially women thus opted to go to the streets for safety. Others were physically disable, unemployed, veterans also fell in this category as well as a small percentage of HIV positive people.

The homeless provided an array of reasons behind their homelessness. They ranged from lack of affordable housing, poverty, low income jobs, unemployment, some domestic violence, mental illness and a large per cent of single adults is substance abuse. Different strategies have been put in place and running to curb the homelessness issue once and for all. For example the program that has been implemented housing first it sought to find permanent housing for the chronically homelessness. This helps to develop independence among the people and in the long run reduce and solve the issue of homelessness, thus reducing the number of homeless people.

This program has been running in some cities in California. It has enabled people to acquire homes and improve their quality of life, it is also beneficial to the counties by cutting down costs of public service. On the negative side despite all this effort by the cities, people are still faced with the foreclosure crisis of their homes rendering most of the homeless altogether. Making it a malicious cycle that seems not to end.

Quigley, J. et al (2001) Homelessness in California, Public Policy Institute of California

It was noted by the authors that rapid homelessness rate was not a recent issue rather it started in the earlier years of 1980s. This led to formation of policy institution to try and intervene in this issue that kept on rising. The authors looked at different perspectives as to why the matter of homelessness kept escalating despite some mitigations being put in place. Some of these mitigations included having influence on the housing markets. This intervention meant reduction of the taxes on houses as well as deduction of interests of the house mortgages. There is also the option of subsidizing house construction to consumers. This enable people to easily build homes and in turn reduce the homelessness menace.

Different considerations have been looked at as the reasons behind the high cases of homelessness. One is personal habits and addictions such as alcoholism, addiction to hard drugs and even mental disorders. Social policies tend to change towards such illnesses making people not want to be associated with these sick and vulnerable people even their family members, this situation forces them to seek shelter on the streets rendering them homeless. Another reason for the mentally disabled being homeless is early deinstitutionalization for release to their families.

The economic recession has not been so kind to a lot of the citizens, this resulted to increase in rents. Low income houses for rental have declined as well as decelerating federal housing program, which most people had leaned on for support. On yet another front income inequality is seen as a reason behind the rise of homelessness. As prices of low quality houses rise making affordability an issue thus leads to families being kicked out or evacuated.

From analysis the authors encourage addition of extra housing in California. Homelessness can be significantly reduced by reducing barriers to new construction and converting dwellings to suit the needs of the low income earners. Housing subsidy policies should be put in place with the aim of improving low income household living standards will significantly have effects on the homeless population.

Bibliography

Henry, M. et al (2014). Annual Homeless Assessment report (AHAR) to Congress. The department of Housing and Urban Development.

Homes not handcuffs: the criminalization of homelessness in U.S cities. (2009) A report by: the national law center on homelessness & poverty and the national coalition for the homeless.

Hunger and homeless survey, (2008) A status report on hunger and homelessness in Americas cities. A 25 city survey

Martha, R.B (2001) helping Americans homeless: Emergency shelters or Affordable Housing? Washington D.C, Urban Institute Press

Applied Survey Research (ASR) a nonprofit Social Research Firm, (2015) San Jose, Homeless Point in Time Census &Survey Comprehensive Report

Quigley, J. et al (2001) Homelessness in California, Public Policy Institute of California

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