Goldsmith Housing/Homelessness Q3
Hundreds of thousands of L.A. County residents are on the brink of homelessness – one car repair, medical visit, or rent increase away from not being able to pay their rent. In fact, an estimated 600,000 people in L.A. County spend 90% of their income on housing. A recent study found, just a 5% rent increase in Los Angeles County would push an additional 2,000 residents into homelessness. The government has a responsibility to not only provide services to homeless individuals but also enact policies that prevent homelessness. We need government leaders to fund practices such as rent control, rental assistance for families in need, and universal legal counsel to prevent evictions. Beyond loss of shelter, housing instability has dire outcomes for health and wellbeing, education, as well as job access and retention. Studies show rent burden is linked to a higher number of doctor visits and a host of mental and physical ailments, including anxiety, depression, substance use and early death. In terms of educational outcomes, housing instability disrupts children’s learning, and makes them more likely to lag behind their peers and even repeat a grade. Children from low-income families, who experience the highest mobility rates, are at the greatest risk of suffering these harms. Strong renter protections are needed in order to avoid these negative consequences. Local and statewide elected officials have a duty to enact and enforce these policies, including strong tenant outreach and education programs. Yet far too often, elected-officials are swayed by the powerful landlord and real estate interests and don’t hear the voices of low-income tenants and people who have experienced homelessness. That’s why foundations – including community, corporate social responsibility, and family foundations – should fund tenant and community organizing. Overall the return on investment in community organizing is $90 to $1. We know it works.