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California's Homeless Population: What do they do until there's No Place Like Home?
by Miranda Morgan
Monday Nov 18th, 2019 12:15 AM
Op-ed about the need for immediate housing options for California's increasing homeless population.
Every person has the basic human right to have somewhere safe and secure to sleep, whether they can afford it or not. According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, there were almost 130,000 Californians without shelter in 2018 and that number will likely be higher for 2019. While the Housing First model is the final goal for a true end to homelessness, something must be done to provide safe shelter for those experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness currently. While City-Sanctioned Tent Encampments, RV parking lots, and Tiny Home Villages may not be ideal long-term solutions, neither is allowing thousands of people to live on the streets, in tents along creek paths, or in their cars.

California’s current No Place Like Home program was enacted to develop permanent supportive housing for those who need mental health services and are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. It promises to be a revolutionary program and has both Competitive and Non-Competitive funding available, but the deadlines for applications run until 2020 and 2021 respectively. This means that it will be years until adequate housing options are available. It is inhumane to expect the current homeless population to continue living as they are until the bureaucratic red tape has been navigated, funds awarded, and properties are built or refurbished. There are many Homeless Advocacy groups with solid plans for housing alternatives that can be put into place immediately; these sites can always be phased out as future housing properties become available or modified for other uses. By utilizing the time from now until more permanent locations are occupant-ready, we can slowly integrate our homeless population into safer and more secure housing options without causing “culture-shock” or complete withdrawal from society. Social and mental health services can be provided at these locations and the inhabitants can gain a sense of ownership and responsibility by holding positions of authority in these communities. If these measures are taken immediately, I believe we will see greater results when this vulnerable population is provided with traditional housing. If we allow our homeless population to continue to live outside our community until there is permanent, brick-and-mortar housing for all of them, it will make the process of reintegration nearly impossible.

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