Homelessness is a chronic issue plaguing our society at
large. Since the 2008 recession, the problem is not getting better
but only worse.
California is one of the major states continually struggling
to deal with a rising homeless population which is now estimated at 27,000 – a
number that’s expected to grow even more if left unattended.
In response to this growing crisis, the city of Los Angeles
has stepped up and initiated an aggressive approach. On June 29,
2016, the City Council unanimously voted 14-0 to put a $1.2 billion bond
measure on the November ballot to raise money to fight homelessness.
The measure, if passed, is aimed at providing resources for
the homeless for the next decade which would include comprehensive services
such as shelters, permanent housing, drug and alcohol treatment and mental
health services. It would also provide affordable housing to at-risk people and
families, ranging from the elderly to battered women and their children
Current Status of Homelessness
Homelessness is not an issue unique to Los Angeles. Its
growing magnitude and prevalence are affecting tens of thousands of Americans
nationwide. Every year, an increasing number of cities across the
nation are being affected by this epidemic.
Homelessness is no longer a problem specific to a particular
city or a county. This seemingly marginalized population is now consisted of
men, women, children, veterans, families, and seniors. The extent to which
homelessness is afflicting the nation as a whole is troubling.
Innovative Approach Tailored to Community Needs
More and more, the government-funded programs are not enough
to effectively respond to the chronicity of the problem.
As a result, a growing number of cities are mobilizing
community-based resources to come up with a more creative and innovative
approach to combating the problem through proactive ideas and actionable plans.
Palisades is one of the first to initiate this endeavor
implementing a private, philanthropic approach to ending homelessness. In
Palisades, residents created a task force and developed a three-year plan to
raise $500,000 private fund to bring in services for its homeless (Goodale,
Other cities are also following suit. Since 2012, the
Fullerton Police Department has partnered with the Coast to Coast
Foundation and Orange County Mental Health Services to provide
homeless individuals and families with immediate assistance and care. The
collaborative efforts have since delivered assistance to more than 1,530
individuals in need (PublicCEO, 2016).
Similarly, Stanton has formed a partnership with the nearby
Illumination Foundation, which resulted in the creation of the Stanton
Multi-Service Center that now offers multi-faceted services to the homeless
including financial counseling, mental health services, and emergency care. The
city’s homeless population has since decreased by about a third (Goodale,
Sonoma County is another community that has secured $75,000
contract on a local level to find a suitable site to develop an affordable
housing plan for homeless people to live in on a long-term basis (ibid.).
As successfully illustrated above,
homelessness must be tackled with a holistic and yet individualized approach
tailored to meet the specific challenges of a particular community.
The cookie-cutter method of the law-enforcement approach
used in the past whereby homeless people are criminalized and discriminated is
no longer working nor is it an option.
Every homeless individual and family is faced with different
challenges which must be uniquely and respectfully addressed without relying on
the generic or traditional response of marginalizing their status.
Homelessness is a societal, community, and family issue
affecting the entire humanity. Just like any other public issues, there is no
quick fix to homelessness. This is why it is no longer sufficient to
resort exclusively to the government-sponsored programs and funds to tackle the
growing problem at hand. It desperately calls for more
collaborative, collective efforts on all fronts.
When it comes to homelessness, no one may be solely
responsible but everyone is equally accountable.
Goodale, G. December 1, 2015. June 29, 2016. Many
California communities take a law-enforcement approach to homelessness. But not
Pacific Palisades. Retrieved from http://m.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2015/1201/In-one-California-community-a-different-approach-to-homelessness
Jablon, R. June 29, 2016. Associated Press. LA votes to
put $1.2 billion homeless measure on ballot. Retrieved fromhttp://www.chron.com/news/article/LA-votes-to-put-1-2-billion-homeless-measure-on-8332725.php
PublicCEO. League of California Cities. June 1, 2016. Fullerton’s
New Approach to Homeless Support. Retrieved fromhttp://www.publicceo.com/2016/06/fullertons-new-approach-to-homeless-support/