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California needs a new approach on homelessness

Californians make up 12 percent of the nation’s population but account for 27 percent of the country’s homeless,

Housing First, is placing homelessness in “permanent” housing, with supportive services. It allows people to continue to abuse substances. In practice, however, oftentimes services are either not provided to or utilized by residents.

Transitional housing is temporary housing and residents are expected to stay sober or employed and participate in support services until they are ready for permanent housing.

California made Housing First an official policy and funds only Housing First programs.

This permanent supportive housing is correlated with only a very small immediate reduction in the homeless population, however, and even this effect disappears after one year.

Using this approach, the state would have to add at least 12.6 beds to reduce the homeless population by one person. And because “affordable” housing in California can cost $500,000, $700,000, or even close to $1 million per unit, Housing First is unable to scale to the level needed to house all of those experiencing homelessness.

A homeless man goes through his belongings outside his tent pitched on the beach in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 29, 2021. The proliferation of homeless encampments on Venice Beach has sparked an outcry from residents and created a political spat among Los Angeles leaders. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)


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