America is the richest country in the World with great ideals of equality, liberty, and opportunity. However, still, there are many issues which need to be solved on urgent basis. Homelessness is one of those major issues. America has been facing the issue of homelessness since more than two decades, and now proper strategies are required to deal with the issues and to shelter the homeless people (Wolch & Dear, 2007). America has been focusing on the cultural facilities, upscale housing, and entertainment zones but the homeless people have always been neglected by the legislative people. It has now become essential to respond to the issue and to propose a bill or legislation to help the homeless people of America. In this study, I will highlight the homelessness in Los Angeles County and will discuss how the legislation have been introduced to help the homeless people. Moreover, I will propose legislation to make some strong strategies to help the homeless people of Los Angeles County.
Homelessness in Los Angeles:
American society is facing a great issue of homelessness and out of many urban regions, Los Angeles County is the one which is facing the great rate of homeless people. Los Angeles County is having more than 10 million residents, 88 cities, and the geographical area of approx 4,100 square miles. Out of these 10 million residents, one million live in the unincorporated areas of the county. Los Angeles County consists of populated as well as sparse areas. If focusing on the reputation of the Los Angeles County then we can find so many glories of life here. It boasts a diverse regional economy, cultural venues, major arts venues, leading universities, and colleges, as well as numerous tourist attractions. This county of United States also manages the largest welfare system in the country. This urban county of America has the largest disparity between low-income people and wealthy people in the nation. Despite this all, the county is still facing the largest homeless population in the nation.
According to the estimates, approx 0.24 million people experience the homelessness in Los Angeles County annually, which is the 2.4% of the total population of the County. 88% of these homeless people spend their nights in streets either sleeping in cars or abandoned buildings. Although the homelessness is so much prominent in some regions of the Los Angeles County but in actual, the homelessness has become the issue of every region of the Los Angeles County. The issue of homelessness in Los Angeles County can also be understood by the figure below;
Figure 1 Homelessness in the United States (ElBoghdady, 2014).
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), homeless is a person who lives in a place which is not meant for the habitation of human beings or he lives in transitional housing or emergency shelter. However, the American Government is doing its best to shelter the homeless person. In 2005, the American government started a homeless count by which it could only shelter the 12% of the homeless people while leaving a majority of homeless people helpless and hopeless (Anony, 2016, p. 12).
According to the survey of homeless people, approx 89% homeless people were found to be unemployed, and 44% were found without any government income, such as Social Security Income of Welfare Income. There were just 2% homeless people had the little income for their survival and food. This shows that homelessness is spreading due to the poverty in the United States and especially in Los Angeles County. The people have no sources of income, and thus they have no other option but to spend their lives on the street or in cars.
It is also found that in Los Angeles County, the most of the homeless people are either African American or Native American. This shows that the ethnic minority is also playing its role in making people homeless and poor. Approx 71% of ethnic minorities are homeless. Not only an ethnic minority, or unemployment is playing their role in increasing homelessness but also the disability, health issues, mental illness, and veterans account are also the major reasons for the homelessness in Los Angeles.
According to the statistics, 57% homeless people are found to be disabled, 18 % are veterans, and 35% are the people who are facing mental or other health issues. Some of the homeless people were also found with HIV/AIDS. Out of 0.24 million homeless people, 34,000 people are found to meet the chronic homelessness. Such people are either physically disabled, or having a health issue and also facing homelessness which is making their lives more difficult for them (Authority, 2006). According to the records the more the people with disabilities are facing more issue of homelessness because they become unable to struggle for their lives and so they have not enough money to even have their treatment properly. The figure 2 clearly explains that how to disable people are facing the homelessness in Los Angeles.
Figure 2 Homelessness in Loss Angeles (Anony, 2016).
Struggles to Meet Homelessness:
The government is struggling hard to meet to this worst issue of Los Angeles County. The Government spends approx one-half of a billion dollars annually to help the homeless people by either providing them shelters to live in or by fulfilling the requirements of the homeless people. The investments are not helping the government to overcome the issue which shows there is more requirement of money to vanish this curse. In addition to the social cost or financial help, the moral support is required for the homeless people to help them to recover and come back to their normal life.
Well, the government has to take strong action to overcome the issue because not only it is causing a social disturbance, but also it is causing economic loss to the County. The more the government will delay the more it will spend costs in jail systems, courts, mental hospitals, and healthcare institutions. It is recorded that the people who are facing homelessness chronically, admits to the emergency ward of the hospitals approx 450 times in 18 months (Gladwell, 2006). This is causing the loss of thousands of dollars to the government and health care system. Moreover, the Sheriffs of the Los Angeles County also estimated that more than $40 million annually spends due to the repeated arrest rate of the homeless people.
Now the questions arise that does the government has introduced any policy to deal with the issue of homelessness in L.A. County? How can that policy be beneficial for the homeless people? When America is progressing on a daily basis then why do people still suffer homelessness? How can the crime, health care issues, and social impact of this homelessness be controlled?
Using Sales Tax for Sheltering the Homeless People of LA County:
Recently, in 2016, policy, “Homelessness Strategy,” has been introduced which has discussed how the problem of the homeless people can be funded. The policy has been introduced for preventing homelessness, for which the five supervisors and 100 speakers gave their votes. According to them, the Government spends hundreds of millions of dollars for the mental health treatment of the people, and remaining amount is used for the capital construction and other matters, and thus the problem of the homelessness remain in its place. They supported the idea to design the units for the homeless people who will then be able to have a permanent shelter. These house units will be provided to the people who are facing homelessness chronically. In this way, the people will be able to sleep at least at a secure place.
Phil Ansell, who is the head of the homelessness initiative of the County, said that the government could only help the homeless people only by providing them the secure shelter and that is only possible if the tax money will be used to provide subsidies and services to the homeless and helpless people. According to the estimates of 2016, 47,000 people of the Los Angeles County are facing the problem of homelessness and to reduce the crime rate and to improve the healthcare of the people, it is required to deal with the curse of homelessness firstly. Thus, using the tax for sheltering the homeless people is the great option. Many of the speakers and common public supported the idea because no doubt it will be the great initiative for helping the homeless people (Smith, 2016).
As it is found that the homeless people are frequently admitted to the emergency wards of the hospitals or they are arrested on a daily basis, so the government is spending a huge money for doing nothing for the homeless people. If the government will use the sales tax to provide the shelter to the homeless people then actually the government is reducing it’s “doing nothing cost.” In this way, the homeless people will be able to have a secure shelter where they will be able to have places to sleep. In this way, the homeless people will also feel support from the government, and thus it will reduce the negative social impacts of homelessness in LA County.
The Homelessness and Poverty Committee introduced a policy to overcome the issue of homelessness in Los Angeles County. The committee is more concerned to implement a strategy by which the government will be able to expand staffing, subsidies, services, and permanent housing for the homeless people of the Los Angeles. According to the introduced policy, approx $355 million of the sales tax will be used to shelter the homeless people. Only the people who are facing chronically homelessness will get benefit from this policy. In this way, the government will use this amount to build the permanent shelters for the homeless people and thus those people will be able to live in those shelters with great peace and will no more be a problem for the society.
It is considered that this is the first time that someone has taken a step for the betterment of the homeless people of LA. According to the Mayor Eric Garcetti;
“For the first time in history, Los Angeles has introduced a sustainable strategy to help our most vulnerable residents.” (Smith, 2016)
This strategic policy has been won 77% votes and is ready to be implemented in the Los Angeles County. The people consider it as the greatest step for the homeless people of LA.
Phil Ansell, who is the head of the homelessness initiative of the County, said that the government could only help the homeless people only by providing them the secure shelter and that is only possible if the tax money will be used to provide subsidies and services to the homeless and helpless people. According to the estimates of 2016, 47,000 people of the Los Angeles County are facing the problem of homelessness. These homeless people feel that there is no place for them in the society and thus they get indulge in the criminal activities. Moreover, the homeless people who are having disabilities or disease are unable to work hard to get a better place to live in. Thus such homeless people spend most of the time of their lives either on streets or in hospitals. Now the introduced policy may help the government to handle the situation and to reduce the crime rate and to improve the healthcare of the people; it is required to deal with the curse of homelessness firstly. Thus, using the tax for sheltering the homeless people is the great option. Many of the speakers and common public supported the idea because no doubt it will be the great initiative for helping the homeless people (Smith, 2016).
If we further focus on the Homelessness Strategy, then its defined principles may help us to understand what actually will be done by this strategy. The policy will adopt a “No Wrong Door” approach to help the homeless people. No wrong approach means that the homeless people have not to do anything wrong now because the Government is providing them the safe shelter. From librarians to police officers, the employees will be able to help the homeless people by providing the homeless people best services and shelter. Moreover, it is essential to organize a team which will estimate the homelessness in the County and will present the requirement of more shelters for the homeless people. For this purpose, a proper homelessness governance infrastructure will be established in the City which will look into all the matters of the homeless people.
The government will not only provide the homes and shelters to the homeless people but also will look for the basic needs of the homeless people. The government will provide them all vital resources, such as food and other stuff. The target of the Homelessness Strategy will be to build more houses in the available income so that more homeless people will be able to get the benefit of it. There must be an ensuring team which will look into the matters that either the homeless people are getting benefits of the shelters, or the L.A. Communities have been properly benefited by the homelessness strategy or not? The policy has not only focused for housing but also it is aiming to improve the interactions between the city departments and the homeless people of L.A. County. The policy is also focusing on managing the mental health care institutions and hospitals for the homeless people where they will be able to have their treatment with great ease (Garcette, 2016).
No doubt, The Homelessness and Poverty Committee have done a great job by introducing the great strategy for the homeless people of the L.A. County. This policy will no doubt be helpful in helping the homeless people of the Los Angeles and so they will not only have their shelters but also will be able to enjoy the benefits of their basic resources. Although theoretically the things are quite good and normal and it seems that the strategy will help the government to banish the problem of homelessness from the L.A. County. But I found it different. No, doubt the policy is helpful to deal with the homelessness issue of L.A, but the policy needs time to show its outcomes. It at least needs one year to construct the shelters for the homeless people and to provide them with basic resources. Moreover, the sales tax funds are to be used to build units on vacant parking lots, fire stations that are vacant and other places where ten thousand homes will be constructed for the homeless people. This project will take approx seven to ten years. Do you think that homeless people of Los Angeles can wait for 7 to 10 years to be sheltered? I am not against to the policy, but I would like to recommend few changes in the policy so that it will be able to help the homeless people of L.A. County as soon as possible.
Housing people who were currently homeless by scaling up the Coordinated Entry System including more staff, more rapid rehousing subsidies and more permanent supportive housing. The Coordinated Entry System (CES) quickly and efficiently matches people to available housing resources and services by stitching existing programs together into a no-wrong-door system, connecting homeless adults to the best resources for them.
CES allows us to know our veterans are regardless of which provider they visit and generate a by-name registry to track housing placements so that we can assess their housing and health needs and then prioritize them for available housing and services.
Preventing people at-risk of homelessness from becoming homeless by producing and preserving affordable housing, by increasing incomes (such as through an increased minimum wage) and by improving transitions from high-risk institutions like jails, hospitals, military and foster care.
The vision for the street that balances the need for health and safety on the street with the rights and needs of the people forced to live on them and a “No Wrong Door” approach whereby any City staff interaction with a homeless person would connect that person to the Coordinated Entry System.