Research tells untold truth about homelessness in California

Half of America’s homeless live in the Golden State. A recent study conducted in San Francisco unveiled important data for understanding the phenomenon.

More than 171,000 homeless people live in California, about half of all Americans living outdoors. Research recently presented by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is credited with dispelling the many myths associated with homelessness. It revealed, for example, how 90 percent of the state’s homeless have lost their housing in California itself, and 75 percent of them now live in the same county where they were last housed. In addition, nearly nine out of ten people said that the cost of housing is the main obstacle to getting out of homelessness.

The heavy economic crisis of recent years has forced an increasingly older segment of the population to live on the streets, and the inherent cost of living in California – considered the most unaffordable state for housing, where minimum wage earners would have to work nearly 90 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom apartment – must also be considered.

Photo by Clay LeConey on unsplash

The research by UCSF’s Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, is based on a representative survey of nearly 3,200 people. Of those, 41 percent said they experienced their first episode of homelessness after age 50. The study also found that residents of color, while making up 6 percent of California’s general population, account for 26 percent of the unhoused population. Native Americans and indigenous people are also overrepresented (12%).

In addition to providing a data base capable of analyzing the phenomenon analytically, the researchers recommended that the state increase access to affordable housing for very low-income people, and expand homelessness prevention through financial support and legal assistance, including for people coming out of prisons and drug treatment.

Opening image: Los Angeles, CA, USA. Photo by Levi Meir Clancy on unsplash

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