A few notes on homelessness

In one night in 2017 these are how many homeless we have on two U.S. coasts:

in California: 118,142, which is about 20% of the population of California
in New York: 86,352, which is about 15% of the population of New York

Note: in New York, aggressive polices to increase shelters and shelter workers have reduced the “unsheltered” homeless population (the people who are more visible, living on streets, in subways, in parks, etc) to 5%, despite an overall increase in homeless numbers.

Check out homeless numbers from other states here.

why homelessness

Homelessness is, in part, linked to economic growth. In the nation’s booming cities, housing prices are going up so much, rent is too high for low-income earners.

“The United States is one of the world’s richest, most powerful, and technologically innovative countries; but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty,” wrote Philip Alston, a United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

response from mayors

14 mayors from U.S. cities got together with business leaders and philanthropic organizations to launch Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment with the goal of reminding the Trump administration that this is a problem that needs support.

The group plans to work with the Housing and Urban Development to fight for federal dollars as well as to find new ways to build affordable housing.

Their message: Cities can’t build enough housing to solve the homeless crisis on their own.

a few other facts

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is no county in the country where a full-time minimum-wage worker can afford fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment.

The nation’s homeless population increased this year for the first time since 2010, driven by a jump in the number of people living on the streets in Los Angeles and other West Coast cities, presumably a result of the coast’s tech boom.

One consequence of the West Coast homeless explosion was a deadly hepatitis A outbreak in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz and San Diego. The disease is spread through a liver-damaging virus that lives in feces.

The outbreak prompted California officials to declare a state of emergency in October.

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