Los Angeles has a huge population of low-income adults and families and very little housing. the rents here are tremendous and some people simply are not currently able to pay for housing on their own. This is where the Section 8 Program steps in for a short time and provides rental assistance to end or prevent homelessness.
Housing First has been shown as a successful concept to ending the cycle of homelessness. Housing individuals and families is far less expensive than providing food and clothing and shelter through publicly funded non-profits and government programs.
I get that is sounds like we are coddling the low-income and simply handing out something that the rest of us work very hard to pay for. In that respect – I understand the reluctance to continue to fund the program. I really do.
However, as a tax payer and as a Homeless Advocate – I have to go with the most cost-effective and successful plan.
Please, let us stop acting as if we can just starve out the poor people. Yes, “If you build it, they will come” – but it is also true that “if you build nothing, they will still come” only then they will be dying in the streets from disease and starvation and committing crimes of desperation.
1. Dont give Cash Aid directly to individuals – pay the bulk of it directly into publically funded housing – or families and friends who give shelter – for rent. Let’s not give rent money to people who are not paying for rent or shelter.
2. Expand the Shelter Plus Care Program and swap out regular section 8 housing. Let’s use our skills to provide guidance and planning to tenants on Subsidized Housing and transition them out to Market Rate Housing. GR and CalWORKS both have education/training /and employment assistance components built-in to them. Enforce the regulations and make compliance mandatory to keep housing without a great increase in cost of services.
3. Assist applicants in turning in paperwork and form completion. Poor customer service breeds contempt and encourages participants to feel like they want to retaliate and fight the program instead of seeing it as a tool to move them through the program and into self-sufficient housing.