By Michelle Moreno Lira
Hundreds of people have moved to California throughout the years in search of greater opportunities and a different lifestyle. This year, we hit a new record as California’s resident rate dropped as more people left California for various reasons––one of the most prominent being high living expenses.
Places such as San Francisco and Los Angeles have become overwhelmingly expensive, and housing units aren’t as affordable as they used to be. The pandemic prevented many people from moving to California. A lack of financial stability and fewer affordable housing opportunities are affecting those moving in and current residents.
It’s essential for California officials, especially city officials in overpopulated areas, to establish affordable housing in desperately needed communities. Since homelessness is easier to achieve than affordable housing, officials need to establish accessible housing and open it to underserved communities.
Many people might believe homeless individuals chose to become homeless or don’t try to find a stable living condition. In reality, homeless people don’t have enough financial support from their government and city officials to find affordable housing or job opportunities. Many setbacks can place a person on the streets; former prisoners have harder times incorporating normal life, along with war veterans that don’t get enough mental health support to achieve a normal life.
Approximately 135,600 people left California, and the population rose 0.05 percent compared to last year’s 0.23 percent. It’s not surprising that many people decided not to move to California. Property taxes are extremely high, and people, along with business owners, are having trouble keeping up with monthly payments.
The fact is that California’s housing expenses are incredibly high, many cities are experiencing gentrification and poor neighborhoods are turning into easy targets by real estate developers and investors. Instead of diverting more funds and resources to neighborhoods impacted by poverty, many choose to build condos and housing units for wealthier buyers in places like San Francisco.
San Francisco’s Chinatown might experience a new gentrification wave because the city hasn’t given them enough financial aid during the pandemic. Obviously, in many cities within California, wealthy developers are succeeding in taking over poor neighborhoods. Their money investments in properties can create more affluent areas and ultimately draw in a new influx of rich residents.
San Francisco officials have left their residents to deal with rent increases independently, and their efforts haven’t been deemed beneficial for many, including business owners suffering from pandemic-ridden closures. The city of San Francisco recently sold the land to Amazon officials where housing units were originally meant to be built. For 200 million dollars, Amazon plans to build new warehouses instead of the envisioned housing units that many residents would have profited from.
This isn’t to say that they would be affordable housing units. Although San Francisco officials planned to build new units, they weren’t meant to benefit underprivileged residents but instead cash-rich residents. This shows that officials aren’t acting fast enough to provide more affordable housing units, apartments for homeless individuals or rehabilitation centers that could house some of the homeless population in San Francisco.
San Francisco is home to many college students struggling to afford housing spaces, along with communities that have struggled to keep up with constant changes involving rent. Despite seeing rising numbers of homeless individuals, San Francisco hasn’t developed a plan to tackle these problems.
This week, Proposition C in San Francisco has finally become a reality, and funds are being collected in an effort to provide $393 million annually to create permanent housing for underprivileged individuals. Despite the proposition’s acceptance in 2018, two years later, we are finally seeing actions that will help house individuals permanently struggling to find affordable housing.
It’s alleged that 15 percent of these funds will prevent people from becoming homeless, and 10 percent will go into temporary housing units and hygienic resources. This is finally a step in the right direction; city officials need to redirect their funds into disadvantaged communities instead of building new unattainable housing units for most people. Residents are spending most of their paychecks on housing and aren’t making ends meet.
Communities are witnessing new housing developments being built for affluent individuals instead of structured developments that will house many of our homeless population. Homeless shelters are frequently full and can only house a limited number of homeless people; with the pandemic, it’s challenging to accommodate everyone since social distancing rules are in place.
It’s essential for California officials, especially city officials in overpopulated areas, to establish affordable housing in desperately needed communities. Since homelessness is easier to achieve than affordable housing, officials need to develop accessible housing and open it to underserved communities.
Funding propositions, such as Proposition C, will be beneficial for many residents and pave the way for more housing opportunities targeting disadvantaged communities.
Michelle Moreno is a fourth-year majoring in English and minoring in Chicano Studies. She is from Downtown Los Angeles.
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