Traneisha Holden (Courtesy photo)
Elizabeth Wang (Courtesy photo)

Homelessness has been a growing problem in Los Angeles for decades and despite numerous efforts to address the issue, the number of people living on the streets continues to rise. The situation is devastating, affecting the homeless and the entire community. It isn’t easy to stroll down the street without coming across someone squatting on the pavement or pleading for money. But why should anyone who calls this place home, be concerned about this matter?

The issue has been growing in this city for several reasons, such as the high cost of living, poverty, mental illness, and substance abuse, combined with a shortage of affordable housing, pushing people into homelessness. We think there are many ways to address the complex problem of homelessness. It is unacceptable that so many people and families have difficulty locating and maintaining secure housing in an affluent metropolis like Los Angeles.

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation, with many people losing their jobs and struggling to make ends meet. Many low-income families in the city are having difficulty because housing is so expensive. This often leads to eviction, which can lead to homelessness.

The government should do more to make housing affordable, which includes investing in programs like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, expanding rent control, access to supportive services like mental health care, drug abuse treatment, and job training programs. This issue has been a concern to us because growing up in Los Angeles, California, and seeing people who have to continue to sleep on the street or in makeshift encampments is heartbreaking.

In our opinion, we need to deal with the structural problems, including income disparity and an absence of social safety net services that cause homelessness. The most vulnerable members of our community must come first, and we must endeavor to build a society where everyone has access to needs like food, shelter, and medical care.

Furthermore, this is an issue we care about because when a person or a whole family loses shelter, they also usually lose what makes them feel human and worthy. Some people who are homeless feel like they can’t connect with others or take care of themselves the way they used to. The number of people who are homeless in Los Angeles is increasing every year. Unfortunately, this problem worsens yearly, and homeless people are still rising.

For instance, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Authority website in 2020, the number of homeless people reached 66,436 representing an 11% increase. The first issued release of 2022 results from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, increased 4.1%. What caught our attention and motivated us to focus on this issue is that the most significant percentage of homeless people in Los Angeles are African Americans. They comprise 34% of the population, which is highly out of proportion compared to other communities.

We want our op-ed published in Los Angeles, California, because of how worse the problem has gotten over the last decade. The homeless people and people of the public should collaborate and work in hand to ensure their rights to proper housing are respected.

We ask the representatives, and mayor to integrate the public and our communities, to pass the Bill H.R. 6453 (117th): Prevent Homelessness Act. We hope the government can understand the roots behind the increase in homelessness and begin to address the issues through public policies to improve the lives of people who are homeless.

Reducing the cost of housing would be the most cost-effective way of eliminating homelessness and can be successful if done correctly. Reaching out to local planning organizations that correlates housing and services for homeless individuals and families in Los Angeles County such as Los Angeles Continuum of Care, known as LAHSA (Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority) We believe this organization can collaborate well with others to help end homelessness.

In conclusion, homelessness in Los Angeles is a complicated issue that requires a thorough and varied strategy. Working to end homelessness and guaranteeing that every member of our community has access to safe, dependable, and affordable housing is something we must all do together. As a Master degree student in social work, we ask how can society prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable citizens and guarantee that everyone has access to necessities?