Really, it seems simple.
California, of all places is especially equipped to feed and house the residents here. California grows enough food to feed the nation. True, our diet would be steak, milk, oranges, strawberries, watermelon and artichoke but who is complaining about that?
There are 18,600,000 vacant homes in the United States. There are about $600,000 Americans who are homeless each night. (using 2014 statistics)
18,600,000 – 600,000 = 18,000,000
If we placed every single man, woman, child, veteran, etc into an unused home or apartment we would still have EIGHTEEN MILLION rooms available. (Don’t tell anyone that we have room for fugitives.)
The city of Los Angeles has 110,000 empty rental units. Combined with empty homes, a 5 year survey of LA estimates there are 3,506,903 empty housing units. Source: 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates
3,792,621 (https://suburbanstats.org/population/california/list-of-counties-and-cities-in-california) That is how many people live in the city of Los Angeles.
Wow, there is almost an empty unit for every LA City Resident.
- Where is the breakdown?
- Why do we still have housing?
Many of these units are owned by developers who want to earn back the cost of planning and building units. Others are owned by private parties and individuals. Some of these are vacation homes. I suspect that this number might also count some Long Term Stay hotels, but I need to look. We can’t use emanate domain to seize property and house people in it.
Some of the people who need housing also need other things to be kept in housing. Wait – but what about housing first? Well, it does not work for everyone.
My exhausting case in point is that I did not get home from work until almost midnight last night. To be fair, that was the time I arrived home the second time.
Yesterday I placed a lovely woman in a home I rented in the valley. Like, oh my gawd, the valley. She decided to take a bath. She ran the water and then went to make food, got distracted, fell asleep and woke up when the water dripped from the ceiling. She flooded my house, ya’ll. She was placed in a home all by herself and she did not know how to use a bathtub. I mean, I am sure she knew at one point, but the skill was lost when she started living on the streets and could only afford cheap motels with showers. She might also have had a liquid dinner if you pick up what I am putting down. She needs help. Live skills and sobriety help to say the very least.
So, is homelessness a big business. Absolutely. It needs to be a big business that operates full tilt until the problem shrinks and then is run at a smaller maintenance level for ongoing events that surprise people as they fall into homelessness.
The line workers, the street outreach teams, housing navigators, housing stabilizers and case managers – we are not in this line of work for the money. We can barely pay our own bills, but the work needs to be done and we know how to do it.
We are always open to new suggestions.
The problem is solvable – we all know it is. A bigger problem is that all of us are not on the same team.