When the Levee Breaks*
When the Levee Breaks: COVID and California's Homelessness Epidemic*Although it is the wealthiest and most populous state in the USA, California is grappling with a housing crisis of epidemic proportions. Los Angeles County alone has 60,000 homeless residents, over 15,000 of whom are currently living out of their vehicles.
According to non-profit research organization Economic Roundtable, a whopping 600,000 LA County residents spend 90% or more of their income on their housing. For these “extremely precariously housed” individuals, often scraping by without living-wage jobs, health insurance, adequate savings, or a means to resist rapidly inflating housing costs in California, life on the streets may be just one accident or unforeseen calamity away.
Enter the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment on a massive scale has left many households unable to make their monthly rent or mortgage payments, building up an insurmountable backlog of debt for families already struggling. A currently moving target, California’s eviction moratorium is set to expire at some point in 2021, after which, without further government intervention, the levees will break leaving potentially millions of people without a place to live.
*working title, ongoing