Holding up housing development, adds Hustings, is the
permitting process. A recent project in the nation’s capital
to create a 100-unit permanent supportive housing facility
took seven years to just break ground. “Local governments could use an update of their permitting processes
to expedite the building of affordable housing,” she asserts.
Advocates also say higher wages would change lives.
“We’re never going to see an end to homelessness or
have an impact until we fix the housing crisis,” contends
Hustings. “But there could be a chicken-and-egg issue.
simply given up. Cracking their protective shell requires
“We had a guy who we call the wizard because that’s what
he calls himself,” explains Klasky-Gamer. “From what
we can piece together, he lived on the street for about
25 years. We worked with him for months to help him
come indoors. He’d come in and go back out for days.
It took about 18 months to build up his ability to live
permanently indoors. He’s now in his own apartment.
He’s so grateful, but it’s not like he was seeking help.
We found him in our outreach and just built up trust.”
Housing: The cause and solution
Ending homelessness requires knowing why people end
up without shelter. Advocates tick off several causes, but
a dearth of affordable housing consistently tops the list.
Klasky-Gamer says that’s the root of the problem in Los
Angeles, where there’s not enough housing, and what’s
available is simply financially out of reach for many.
In addition to placing people in scattered-site apartments,
L.A. Family Housing develops, owns and operates permanent supportive housing. “We’ve built 20 apartment
buildings throughout Los Angeles for very-low income,
previously homeless, or at-risk-of-homelessness families,” notes Klasky-Gamer. “We’re committed to smart
growth, and not just when it comes to density and access
to services like parks or groceries. It’s also the design,
including how that property fits within and contributes
to a healthy neighborhood. We design our buildings so
common areas like community rooms and play lots can
be accessed by everybody in the community.”
Housing is also the main problem in Louisville. “The cost
isn’t so high here, but we don’t have very much stock,”
explains Natalie Harris, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless. “Eighty percent of the people
homeless here are short-term homeless. They’re just poor.
A lot are single moms who just don’t earn enough money
to make it every month. If you had enough housing, you
wouldn’t have that problem.”
A dearth of affordable
housing is the root problem
of homelessness in Los Angeles.
The Faces of Homelessness: Kevin’s injuries at work left him homeless for a
short term. He found a new career path and was able to move out of a shelter.
Photo by Alessandro Lupo
Photo courtesy of Florida Community Loan Fund