The state of California is facing a homelessness crisis that needs an effective response. This condition was created and perpetuated by a number of crucial factors including subpar housing policies, a complicated registration process, and a low supply of affordable housing. The Golden state has one of the fastest growing economies that is currently threatened by the scourge of homelessness. It is therefore in the state’s interests that this problem is addressed as soon as possible. This narration is an attempt at showing that the homelessness problem can only be handled effectively by reconsidering housing policies, allocating more resources to affordable housing programs, and simplifying the registration process. State officials should put all the attention and focus on these suggestions as they hold the ability to ensure an immediate, large-scale impact.
Housing policies have a significant impact on the supply of housing because they set the channels that dictate the flow of funding and stakeholder actions. California has a set of policies that should be reconsidered if the state is to solve homelessness permanently. The most important policies that should be amended to tackle homelessness in California include those touching on planning and zoning, accountability and enforcement and creating and preserving affordable housing (California Department of Housing and Community Development, 2017). Policies touching on planning and zoning currently impose a minimum requirement of affordable housing units in all development projects, cities and counties and mandatory reporting of progress towards meeting housing goals by all cities and counties. Improvements can be made on these policies.
While these policies are a step in the right direction, they target the long-term and fall short of addressing the problem now. In addition, these policies offer incentives for creating zoning overlay districts with streamlined zoning but this does not offer an immediate solution. These incentives should be directed at existing housing units and not those to be constructed. Housing supply is driven by demand so it will be unlikely that development agencies will build new units without adequate demand, demand that is actively undermined by the ever-rising rate of homelessness. Thus planning and zoning incentives should be directed at converting existing units into affordable housing where the homeless can live. The same should be done to the funds allocated to and generated from enforcement policies. All revenue generated from fines and penalties on projects that do not include affordable housing units should be directed at incentivizing owners of existing units to make them affordable.
There are several affordable housing programs in California today aimed at addressing different aspects of homelessness including reducing the risk of homelessness, recreation facilities, food, security, direct funds in the form of loans, emergency care, and animal care among others. These programs tackle important issues the homeless face and a closer look reveals that more should be created because the problem still persists today. What is needed is more funding. The solution to homelessness is simple but hard, give the homeless homes. While these people need homes, they also need means of generating income that will enable them to operate independently and keep their homes permanently. Therefore, the federal and state governments need to select the programs that target this end and give them adequate funds.
Homelessness is tied to an inability to generate any or an adequate amount of money in the current economy. This merits a closer look and the question that should be at the forefront of decision makers at the state and government level should be how to ensure the homeless realize the stability that will lead to independency and a path to wealth. The nation has enough natural and physical resources to ensure all citizens live comfortably and in wealth without undermining the current lifestyle of those already in this state. The governments should think of how to motivate the homeless to find a path to wealth, and this involves a substantial investment because it is not cheap. All invested funds will be recovered in the tax generated from this newly created group of taxpayers. When the homeless do not have to worry about finding food, water and a place to sleep, they will be more amenable to being empowered by education. Meeting these needs is not cheap but necessary. The governments should design education initiatives to show the homeless that they can get out of their situation if they adopted different ways of doing things. This investment will pay off in the long-term but it is the only way to permanently solve homelessness. Therefore, the governments should allocate more funding to programs targeting education and meeting the homeless people’s basic needs because an empowered homeless population will find various ways of their own to find the stability and wealth they desire.
Housing registration in California involves a number of steps that often consume a lot of time and bar individuals from getting homes. Landlords and housing agencies are allowed to have their own set of requirements that are geared to ensure they generate returns from their investments. Different landlords and companies have different requirements based on their desired clientele and goals but these have proven to be more cumbersome than not. These requirements include minimum thresholds in areas like income generated over a given period, funds saved in the bank account, occupation, and so much more. Today, many agencies and landlords require that applicants meet criteria that the average Californian cannot. While these requirements are meant to protect the properties from generating losses, they keep a large number of people from acquiring homes, which in turn increases competition for available units with less stringent requirements and that drives up prices, making it difficult to get housing. In the end, many people that can afford houses are forced into homelessness. This problem can be solved by standardizing housing requirements for all levels of income. This way, more people will be able to obtain housing because many existing rental properties stand empty due to stringent requirements.
California’s housing problem can be solved by careful thought and consideration. The state houses about one-third of the national homeless population so the situation needs to be addressed as soon as possible to avoid stunting the phenomenal economic growth being experienced. While the initiatives and policies in place are targeted at this end, they are targeted on the future and not the present, which needs to change. This narration has proposed changes to housing policy, resource allocation, and the housing registration process as these have the ability to ensure immediate, large-scale changes. Homelessness is not an unsolvable problem and what is needed is that the homeless get a platform on which they can build better lives for themselves. An empowered homeless population will rise to unprecedented heights.
California Department of Housing and Community Development. “California’s 2017 Housing Package.” California Department of Housing and Community Development, 2017, Web.