There are hundreds of factors that contribute to homelessness, including a lack of affordable housing, a 30+ year income/wealth gap and wage stagnation, a dearth of legal tenant protections, racist housing policies, insufficient care in the mental and emotional health of our people, and more. If we don’t do anything in addressing many of these contributing factors and instead, continue to move on in life as if nothing “bad” is going on, eventually a plurality of the American people will end up experiencing homelessness and we’ll have a majority of the American people living in utter poverty.
30+ years ago, Americans used to receive pensions, which made up one of three retirement pillars for Americans, along with social security and one’s own personal savings. After pensions virtually disappeared, our people were left to fend for themselves, with only a chipped away social security and non-existent savings remaining due to 30+ year wage stagnation and the common struggle of making ends meet. This is the dire financial reality facing masses of people in our country. It’s time that we care for our people and ensure that no one has to suffer by experiencing homelessness, nor worry that they will at some point in their life. This starts with caring for our brothers and sisters who are currently experiencing homelessness.
Why We Need It
Today, we have 7,000 unhoused brothers and sisters living in Skid Row, of our district, while we have 60,000+ in Los Angeles County. Nationally, we have around 3 million families and individuals experiencing homelessness. And in a country like ours, founded upon freedom, truth and the pursuit of happiness for all, one of our primary focuses for the next Congress should be eradicating poverty and ending homelessness. No one should ever have to live on the streets without a physical home, nor worry about having to pick that option due to their circumstances in life. If we truly love our people, our priority should be ensuring that everyone has a roof to sleep under, no matter who they are.
What We Are Fighting For
Firstly, we need to de-criminalize homelessness federally. Plain and simple. You can’t be charged with a crime of being homeless, whether that be sleeping in your car or sleeping outside. We can do this while still addressing the concerns and interests of landlords as well as business owners.
Secondly, we need to give direct cash relief to all of our people, not leaving anyone out, for this is precisely how we lift people out of poverty. By laying this floor for everyone to be on, people are able to have some money to contribute towards rent and basic expenses. See the “Universal Basic Income” page for more information and related FAQs.
Thirdly, we need to provide Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), following the “Housing First” model, an invention that combines affordable housing assistance with free, voluntary onsite wraparound support services to address the needs of people experiencing chronic homelessness (i.e., medical/dental assistance, trauma counseling, mindfulness training, domestic violence counseling, drug addiction recovery and therapy programs, etc.). This would empower residents and connect them with community-based healthcare and employment services. This scaled investment in PSH is a moral necessity and an essential step along the path to eradicating homelessness. We can do this by identifying and utilizing local buildings and properties that are vacant or abandoned, converting them to PSH use. And for those who are currently experiencing homelessness, they can use their above-referenced universal basic income as payment towards rent in the PSH. See the “Homes Guarantee” page for more.
Fourthly, while ensuring that such legislation like HR 4351 YIMBY Act and a Homes Guarantee are passed, we need to think of other ways to collaborate with local, state and federal governments. Whether it’s building more modular, portable units at a fraction of the current costs, utilizing unused school buildings and land for housing, or eliminating more exclusionary zoning laws that would restrict or limit the various options of affordable housing (be it ADUs, multi-dwelling units, collectivized living arrangements and more), all will be useful in helping to combat the complex challenges of the homelessness crisis.
Fifthly, we must provide more transitional living programs for our foster children. These programs would teach our youth how to budget, build a credit score, train and look for a job, learn how to mindfully use their universal basic income payments, as well as receive therapy counseling and mindfulness tools. We must also communicate to our communities that we have a moral responsibility to make sure our youth have safe families to live with. Between 30-50% of foster parents drop out of fostering each year while the number of children in foster care has increased to more than 440,000 today. And no longer is foster care assured to be a temporary, safe place for children anymore – more and more foster youth are falling into homelessness. We must provide for all of our youth, for we are all one human race and, sometimes, we forget this.
Further, we must ensure that in addition to passing minimum federal rent control standards and a basic bill of tenant rights, we establish that every person has a right to counsel in any eviction related matter, for this is how we make certain that no one is suddenly left to live on the streets without going through any due process.
And lastly, we must ban politicians and elected officials, like the current incumbent, from accepting money and donations from corporate interests, including developers. This is IMPERATIVE. Otherwise, every industry will continue to be negatively affected and harm the general welfare, health and interests of our people, be it in food, housing, chemicals, education, healthcare, and etc.
What It Will Do
Ending homelessness in America would save public money by reducing hospital and psychiatric admissions as well as incarceration, all of which are avoidable through a humane policy of housing and supporting people who need it. Ending homelessness would take our country and people to the next level of humanity. Because once we start caring for ALL of our peoples, ensuring that no one is left behind, the more united and one we become as a people and nation — and the more engaged all of us become in making life happen for us, and not to us.