The Christian Science Monitor quoted me in Los Angeles to Serve as Crucible for Reform in Ending Chronic Homelessness. It reads, in part:
As the heavy winter rains sweep across southern California, Los Angeles’s homeless residents hunker down. Many – like former farmworker Andreas, who huddled in the doorway of a parking structure – are unable or unwilling to find shelter off the street.
These are the chronically homeless, a large portion of the 44,000 people in L.A. that make this city the West Coast’s homelessness capital.
Nationwide, the chronically homeless represent roughly 20 percent of the nation’s homeless population at any given moment. And, both in California and across the country, they form the core target of an intensified effort by activists and politicians determined to get at the roots of intransigent homelessness.
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The US is not going to conquer chronic homelessness until it addresses the structural issues that hand homelessness down from one generation to another, says Brooklyn law professor David Reiss, who specializes in housing issues.
The absence of a safety net for those who fall out of employment is the beginning of the cycle, particularly for at-risk populations such as foster-care children who age out of the system and single mothers with young children. Job scarcity is also a factor. Big cities with the highest cost of living, like Los Angeles and New York, usually present the most possibilities for those in search of work.
“Very low-income people often prefer to stay in such cities, even if they are at risk of homelessness, because it is the best of a set of bad options,” he points out.
The basic costs of maintaining a home are driving more people onto the street, says Professor Reiss – a growing problem tied to the issue of income inequality.
A recent study by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies finds that this trend is increasing and, says Reiss, “we should expect more and more households to have trouble paying rent in the coming years.”