Homelessness initiatives created at the height of the pandemic have lost their spark – many Californians are returning to the streets with no prospect.
From 2019 to 2022, the homeless population grew by 7% and consists of nearly 117,000 Californians in 2022. As of March 2020, programs like Project room key secured 16,000 motel and hotel rooms for 55,000 Californians without homes during the pandemic, according to CalMatters.
In addition to Project Roomkey, the government has responded to the growing homeless population with:
- rental assistance;
- moratoriums on evictions; and
- stimulus checks.
However, as the pandemic effect begins to fade, these initiatives lose momentum.
As of July 2022, the era of eviction moratoriums has ended, rental aids have been halted, and stimulus checks have long since stopped in 2021. The impact on the number of homeless Californians has been extreme.
From the Roomkey project, 12,000 people were able to move from housing without housing to permanent housing, according to CalMatters. However, Project Roomkey has reduced its program from 16,000 rooms available in 2020 to 5,000 rooms in 2022 – a big reduction for such a promising response to the overflow of homeless people at the height of the pandemic.
Of the 55,000 Project Roomkey participants, 34,000 Californians have found refuge in:
- collective shelters;
- temporary accommodation;
- establishments; Where
- destinations unknown, according to CalMatters.
With just under 10,000 unhoused Roomkey participants, it’s another failure for real estate professionals to gain more clients since these people cannot afford housing. Rising number of homeless Californians means reduced quality of life for everything California residents – an ongoing result of the homelessness crisis.
California Comeback Plan to address the homelessness crisis
Table of Contents
New initiatives for the homeless
Although pandemic initiatives such as Project Roomkey have taken a step back, other initiatives have emerged from it.
One of the initiatives being Project home key (different letter, same idea), a statewide conversion project to provide permanent or temporary housing for homeless people. The Homekey project allows developers to convert various types of housing into housing for people experiencing homelessness, such as:
- hotels and motels;
- single-family residences and multi-family units;
- prefabricated housing; and
- commercial properties.
Additionally, Assembly Bill (AB) 2483, a new California law, will require Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) provide incentives to developments funded under the multifamily housing program to include units for the homeless.
However, whatever financial assistance these projects receive from the government, it all comes down to the amount of low income lodging available for extremely low income workers. A greater inventory of quality low-income housing will mean more developments that can organically meet the demand of all residents. Where there is a need – as with housing – there must be avenues for builders to meet it. Otherwise, the cost of housing exceeds the financial capabilities of low-income workers. The result is the current homelessness crisis.
More housing, but make it possible
Progress is too often thwarted by the voice not-in-my-yard (NIMBY) advocates, who believe that low-income housing is just another disadvantage for middle and high income communities.
For the NIMBYs, low-income housing ruins communities and neighborhoods, which ultimately forces moderate-income families to relocate. NIMBYs, more often than not, block the construction of new housing and indirectly stand in the way of solving the homelessness crisis.
However, to make progress towards affordable housing, NIMBYs, local authorities and property professionals – Yes you– must come together to bring down this homelessness crisis.
Real estate professionals can do their part to prevent home values from deteriorating when low-cost housing is introduced by getting involved in the planning process and assisting local council meetings.
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