After spending billions of dollars, California’s homelessness crisis is only getting worse. California makes up 29% of the homeless in the entire country while only being 12% of the nation’s total population.
Unfortunately, too many politicians believe that throwing more money at the problem will solve it. It won’t. It hasn’t. It has only made it worse. Without addressing mental health issues, addiction, and rising housing costs, we aren’t fostering healthy communities.
We need to do an audit to determine what programs are working and which ones are not, and strengthen our rehabilitation and mental health services. Since the 1970s, California has put ever-stricter regulations on housing development — in the name of the environment and safety, but also often explicitly on a local level “to preserve housing values.” The result is a housing shortage that has been growing worse for a generation. We don’t need higher taxes and more regulations. We’ve raised taxes to fund affordable housing, through SB 2 and the cap-and-trade program, and it’s being put to use to build rent-capped units at grossly inflated costs thanks to systems designed with everything in mind except efficiency.
We need to streamline state programs for vulnerable populations, deregulate to encourage housing development, and start treating housing as a critical human need and not an impact that needs years of CEQA review before approval. In addition, new methods to finance infrastructure that reduce the heavy local reliance on development impact fees to fund municipal services are vital.