(author’s note: I originally ran this blog on Feb 21, 2020. It is pertinent now with the current Covid-19 pandemic. Diseases hit the homeless community as hard if not harder than any other.)
Homelessness has been on the rise in the United States since the 70’s. The problem has been in the forefront of the news recently with the focus on Los Angeles and California. Governor Gavin Newsom addressed his state on the issue. The issue is fairly noticeable if you drive through downtown LA. Newsom, being a little over a year in office, is hardly to blame for the problem; he inherited it. California is not the only place in the country with a homeless problem. It’s not just a state issue.
Homelessness began to rise during the Reagan administration as the NeoCons de=regulated and de-funded the mental health sector and pulled money from as many social programs as possible. Unemployment, social-security, and food stamp programs have been losing ground ever since.
Homeless statistics calculated by the use of counting homeless on a night in January and by schools asking children if their families are homeless is almost laughable. Unemployment statistics, based on unemployment claims per month, are a ridiculous understatement of the problem. There is no accounting for the permanently unemployed; those unable to find work after they lose a job or those that give up. There is no accounting for those who hold down more than one underpaying part time job to make ends meet. The numbers sure look good as our workforce sheds unaccounted for undesirables. Social programs are necessary to help get our fellow Americans back to work and support those who can’t; it’s a safety net.
Of course it wouldn’t hurt if real wages were really on the rise.