Dear Future President:
In the United States, income inequality is a gigantic problem in the economy for thousands of people. For example, in Los Angeles, high unemployment, soaring rents, and low wages have caused the homeless rate to increase by 12% since 2013. The number of man made shelters has risen 85% the past 2 years and now there is about 9,535 in the city. In downtown L.A. and Venice, cheap hotel rooms, motels and apartments were once the last refuge for the poor, now they’re being eliminated. In the U.S., more than 44,000 people were tallied as homeless and well over half, 26,000, were in L.A. This amount has grown since 2013- 39,000. Homeless authority commission members called for more state and local money and neighborhoods to accept homeless residents. The city and county have tried to counteract these with rapidly re-housing the homeless and so called permanent supportive housing for the long term homeless. However, these haven’t completely solved the problem of the region’s high cost of housing and lack of new money for low-income housing. In addition, the county’s unemployment rate of 7.5 percent still tops the national rate of 5.6 percent. A lack of affordable housing means homes are not available for all the homeless. In some cases, the newly homeless are being pushed aside in favor of veterans and the longtime homeless. In 2008 the city’s affordable housing fund totaled $108 million but in 2014 it has plunged to $26 million. The city now has far less money to spend on affordable housing. Meanwhile, housing prices and rents are rising rapidly. The increase is making the pool of affordable housing even smaller.
In Washington, child homelessness is at an all time high with 1 in 30 children being homeless. That’s a total of 2.5 million around the country. These kids are often invisible because they might be sleeping at their friend’s house or hopping from motel to motel every week. “Child homelessness has reached epidemic proportions in America,” said Carmela DeCandia, director of National Center on Family Homelessness. She also said “But the nation hasn’t really prioritized family and child homelessness. The government is having trouble trying to help homeless kids when they have trouble defining “homeless”. The U.S. Department of Education counts the number of school children without a fixed address, which comes to 1.1 million. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, on the other hand, counts the number of families living on the street, in shelters or in cars at a specific point in time, about 138,149 homeless children. Advocates for the homeless argue that HUD’s definition of “homeless” excludes more than a million homeless kids. That makes it almost impossible for state and local governments to use federal money to help them.
In 2010, President Barack Obama unveiled a plan to end overall homelessness by 2020. The number of homeless veterans and chronically homeless has decreased by more than 20 percent. The chronically homeless are those with a disability and have been homeless for more than a year or multiple times.The number of homeless children, though, has nearly doubled since 2010. Poverty, of course, is the main cause of homelessness. Homeless children are typically part of a family headed by a single mother in her 20s without much education and frequently out of a job. Many mothers avoid going to shelters for as long as possible because they don’t want to expose their children to shelter life or they are afraid the family will be split up. They are the most vulnerable and endangered group. Many people are at great risk of being homeless and many are already homeless due to income inequality and rising prices of homes. Homeless children won’t get the education they need because they don’t have a proper home to go to. It will take a lot to fix this problem but it will be for the better.