Homelessness In California: Homeless Veterans
California has always had a problem with homelessness, during the 1980’s the number of homeless spiked throughout the United States with the estimated amount being over 200,000. Since then the number of homeless people has increased with California being the one with the largest amount of homeless than any other state. Ranging to approximately 130,000, close to what the whole United States had during the 1980’s which at the time was considered to be a crisis. Today this crisis has yet to be solved or the government haven’t even made a dent in the rate of the amount of people becoming homeless per year.
Currently 70 percent of homeless in California are unsheltered due to the lack of resources, 38 percent are made up of veterans. Approximately 61 percent of all veterans are homeless and California is at an all-time high carrying 28.7 percent almost half of the whole U.S. homeless veterans’ population. The “lucky ones” who are able to stay in a shelter or a place to live also have to face their own challenges. In most shelters a person may get an 3-5 day stay and then they can have their time end or extended after staff look make a decision based on their case. After that homeless still have to follow the shelters rules if they decide to stay, for most the obstacle they need to get through to stay in the shelter is finding a job, staying sober, and attempting to get help for their mental health issues. Since homelessness is a national issue its our society that needs to contribute to make a change, if we don’t even try to help those homeless who are either mentally ill, drug addicts & even the veterans who risked their lives fighting for our country then we are doing something wrong.
In California the leading cause of homelessness is due to lack of affordable housing for its residents, being one of the states with most expensive housing. That causes poverty with most attempting to cover their rent and mortgages not being able to pay for health insurance and other necessary things. Most have to rely heavily on state and federal assistance because of the increased rents which have increased poverty to 16.4 percent in California compared to the official poverty rate in the United States that at 12.3 percent. Since California’s economic growth is on the rise there are going to be plenty of job opportunities opening up which cause people from other states to transfer and reside in California. As Tessa Stuart states in her California’s housing crisis article “It isn’t a failing economy that’s putting our residents out on the streets…. It’s a booming one.”
With very minimum construction of new housing many of the people already residing and those coming to California for job opportunities will most likely become homeless. Those people who are able to find jobs are still at high risk of unemployment or even low wages that can’t sustain a person let alone an entire family. Unemployment is the second contributing factor to California’s homeless problem with 2019’s unemployment rate at 4.3 percent. As with low wages the minimum wage in California was set to increase from $11 to $12, in the beginning of this year January 1, 2019. Yes, that could be good to some employees but not to most since the owners will lay off workers due to the shift of income, product costs will increase and jobs will be limited.
Now these reasons should be of main concern to the population of California but we also need to pay notice to some other underlying major problems that are trying to be generalized by some media outlets and government workers as they try to claim it to be only a “housing crisis” when in reality there are other problems as well that go hand in hand contributing to homelessness like substance abuse, trauma in teens, and mental health issues.
The problem is our government does not want to speak out on any of those other problems because they don’t want their community to look as bad as it is. Substance abuse is a key contributing cause of the unsheltered homeless population affecting 75 percent or higher homeless people compared to the 13 percent of those who are living in a shelter. In Los Angeles alone it is estimated that deaths in homeless communities have increase 76 percent experts say the rise of substance abuse may be the reason to so many deaths.
It’s bad already having all those problems causing homelessness then you also have to factor in how many of them are homeless because they’ve experienced trauma or mental health issues which caused them to become isolated and slowly sway away from society. Youth are prone to abuse either physically, mentally, or sexually which can come from home, under family member or foster care. Nationally there is a 20 percent or greater chance for foster youth to become homeless. Most of the time it’s because they are aging out of the system and with no help or where to turn to, they become homeless from time to time it will be the youth’s decisions due to the situation they are placed in most likely there is abuse in the household. Mental health comes into play a bit later on affecting them with depression or anxiety.
Not all mental health is due to trauma as most homeless are suffering from this problem 84 percent of the homeless population suffer from mental health. It can go either way for people with mental heath to start abusing drugs or people with drug problems gaining mental health issues and with homelessness most people just want to get rid of the stress of being homeless so they turn to drugs. Even then some have mental health issues for other reasons California has the highest rates of homeless veterans compared to all the other states. Homeless veterans make up 28 percent of California’s population, sadly they are more likely to experience homelessness than other people due to injury or illness received when in combat. The most recognized mental illness veterans have is PTSD post-traumatic stress disorder, having to cope with that daily becomes extremely stressful which is why most turn to drugs that affect them even more and why most end up a mentally ill homeless person.
Along with reasons people end up in the street they face many challenges, difficulties they need to get through to go on throughout their day. The most common problem through the homeless communities in California are health problems. With little to no help from the government it is up to non profit organizations that try to get them the help they deserve.
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