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30% of country's homeless population lives in California

The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development released it's new report, and California takes the lead.

CALIFORNIA, USA — New data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows how the homeless crisis is magnified in California.

30% of the nation’s homeless population is in California. That's about 172,000 homeless people. The state had the largest rate of increase in its homeless population in the country att 6.2%. 

“The data is unfortunately, heartbreaking, but not a surprise," said Dr. Rajni Shankar-Brown. "In fact, I would say from my end, the numbers are actually underestimated.”

Dr. Shankar-Brown is the president of the National Coalition for the Homeless. She said the numbers are likely worse than they are in California and across the country. This Point-in-Time count doesn’t count homeless individuals who are staying with friends or family, living in rural areas or motels.

California accounted for half of all unsheltered people in the country. 

“In California, we've continued to see compounding issues," said Shankar-Brown. "One, again, the lack of affordable housing being a tremendous issue. Housing is not affordable. It is not accessible for so many, rent prices have continued to surge, and all while many do not have a fair living wage or wages have also not continued to keep up.”

Tom Albanese is an independent homeless consultant who helps cities across the country come up with better homeless plans. He said California’s housing market is the reason the issue is exacerbated in the Golden State. 

“The housing market, the options for them are evaporating," said Albanese. "Even if they have a voucher, it's a competition of musical chairs, and there's fewer chairs than there were before, and folks don't have other solutions like permanent supportive housing at the scale it's needed.”

On a national level, homelessness increased by 0.3%.

“I think the main takeaway is, remarkably through the pandemic, and I would say with bipartisan support, we were able to provide emergency rental assistance and other protective measures that help to keep people safely housed,” said Albanese. 

Many programs have since ended. President Joe Biden's administration put out a plan Monday to reduce the homeless population 25% by 2025. 


Both Shankar-Brown and Albanese think it’s achievable. 

"We have more than enough resources in the United States to end homelessness," said Shankar-Brown. "There is no doubt we are one of the wealthiest nations in the world. What we need is the political will, genuine commitment."

Shankar Brown's coalition actually provided the feedback to the Biden administration to help them come up with this new blueprint. One of her main concerns, and what she achieved, was making sure that people with lived experiences are in on the decision making processes - people who know what it’s like to be homeless and what needs to be done. 

Albanese said recent laws like the the ones making it easier to build mother-in-law suites on properties, or tenant protection rights, are something other states should follow California’s lead on. He believes it will make a difference.


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