By Jovani Contreras
Homelessness in California has surged at alarming rates in recent years. At over 150,000 homeless citizens, the “Golden State” has the largest homeless population in the nation. California’s homeless population accounts for 22% of the total U.S homeless population.
According to the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, the current homeless population of California is at its largest since 2007. Since 2018, there has been a nearly 17% uptick in homelessness.
Although homelessness in California has only recently been fluctuating, experts say California’s homelessness crisis has been decades in the making. Experts claim the main cause of the surging homeless population is the lack of housing in California.
Since the 1970s, California has experienced housing shortages, and the issue has not improved by much. Therefore, the insufficient amount of housing today has reached notoriously high costs.
The lack of housing units in California is mostly due to the cost of living. Due to the shortages in housing, rent in the state has increased at twice the national rate, and the average cost to buy a home in California is $600,000.
In order to reasonably afford a home in California, a household would have to make an annual income of about $100,000, a figure almost two times that of the national average income. Even citizens in high-income brackets find themselves stretching their budgets when spending 30-50% of their budget on housing alone.
The low supply of housing simply can not meet the high demand of California’s large, and quickly growing, population. California’s high cost of living makes housing nearly unattainable to impoverished citizens.