Homeless Crisis In California

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California has dealt with homelessness for quite some time. The homeless crisis did not happen overnight. This problem has been pushed aside for years and now that it has resurfaced repeatedly, many politicians and the state of California is finally trying to put an end to this or what many would say, a solution to control homelessness. So, what is considered “homeless”? According to United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, homelessness is defined as an individual who is living in a place not meant for humans for at least 12 months or on four separate times in the last 3 years, resides in an institutional care facility, or a family that has fluctuated in their household. There are many reasonings and aspects that impacts the homeless crisis in California. Whether it is lack of affordable housing, inadequate public assistance, drug abuse, or political power.

Political power definitely has a big part in helping and causing roadblocks to the homeless crisis. The state government can only do so much, but the federal government has so much more power and funds to keep the homeless crisis at bay. Federalism is defined by our textbook as, an institutional arrangement that creates two relatively autonomous levels of government, each possessing the capacity to act directly on behalf of the people with the authority granted to it by the national constitution. A prime example as to how federalism plays apart in the homelessness crisis is the fact that while Mayor Darrel Steinberg have been trying to figure a solution to this, the Trump administration jumps in to give the state of California a hand in battling the homelessness. This shows that even though the state is trying their best to tackle the issue, the national government have no issue in jumping in and giving constructive criticism. Mayor Darrel Steinberg states “It’s easy to pop in from thousands of miles away and point fingers, but there are many reasons why housing is expensive in California…”. In Sacramento and many other places, there have been ideas of turning abandon builds and hotels into a homeless shelter where the homeless can be sheltered meanwhile using public assistance to help get them back on their feet and guide them to the real world.

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While housing is incredibly high in California, we as citizens hoped to have voted for a governor who would help with the high living expenses here in California. So as Governor Gavin Newsom was elected, we would want him to be our appointed representative to help reduce the high rent and high living cost. This request would also give the people who is close to becoming homeless a chance to survive and not live out in the streets, their car, a family member’s house or in homeless shelters. This an example of an indirect democracy from our course concept. Indirect democracy allows the people to pick representatives to serve in government and make decisions on the citizens’ behalf. Even though we vote for someone to represent us; this does not always mean that they will do things to please or help us. For example, while Governor Gavin Newsom is trying to help find a solution to the homelessness, he is also doing other counterproductive things, like signing a proposed law for rent increase. There are many opinions when it comes to political ideas or political topics. It is a sensitive topic to approach that is why there are polls and surveys to get everyone’s input and hopefully find a middle for everyone to be happy.

The definition from the course textbook for public opinion states that it is a collection of popular views about something, perhaps a person, a local or national event, or a new idea. In order for the public opinions to be as accurate as they can be, importance of random and representative polling is a big factor. Public opinion is such a big factor in the political world. These ideas and topics help candidates get a better understanding of what is expected from them. This can be very bias and will be used to lever themselves above other competitions. In a recent survey from the Los Angeles Times, the three big political concerns that the voters voted on was homelessness (95%), traffic congestion (88%) and affordable housing (85%). As you can see, two out of the three have a direct involvement with the homeless crisis. Many residents were, at various times, angry, frustrated and overwhelmed by the growing of homelessness. The poll of 901 registered voters also answered on who is to be blamed for the homeless crisis. 49% said homelessness is from the lack of affordable housing and 26% said it was the result of individual actions and decisions (drugs). There are so many reasons and opinions as to what the root causes of homelessness is, and time can only tell how and when this will end.

In my opinion, the solution is way beyond the control of a college student. Coming from a student who moved here from Wisconsin with nothing but clothes and my car, I was considered homeless. Living in my car with no running water and electricity was the least of my concern. I was more worried about food, money, my future etc. Luckily, I was able to get wi-fi from McDonalds and applied to a few jobs and apartments all over northern California. I was fortunate enough to land a job in Chico where I worked for 6 months living in my car before I was able to get an apartment. In all those months I sat in my car thinking and brainstorming ideas on how to get rid of homelessness, I had a few great ideas, but one really stuck out to me. In my journey, I realized that if we all had a chance or opportunity, many of us will greatly appreciate it and seize that moment and never look back. This idea may be out of the world, but I know someone will hear this out or when I finish my engineering degree I will pay forth and make it happen. So a short version of my idea was to build a community like a military base where the homeless will be screened, interviewed, and given the opportunity to live like real civilians and helping transitioning them to the real world. There will be rules and guidelines to living here: drug free, attending an education of some sort, and performing community service to pay for “rent”. In the meantime, there will be public assistance and guidance in helping these people get back on their feet. I know this is far off, need so much work and a great team to make this happen, but I will never lose hope. Taking this US Government class made me realize how much power our government have. If we do not like what is being done, we need to take a stand, voice our opinions, peacefully fight for what we want and need, register to vote, and hopefully make a positive change.


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