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Homelessness is a problem throughout the nation, and during the pandemic it has been growing exponentially, especially in larger metropolitan areas. Just as with the situation on the border, people sheltering in tents and sleeping bags has become a crisis as well. The rental and housing market is partly to blame, but what else is driving up homelessness in the country?
Article by Kelli Ballard from Liberty Nation.
During 2019 and 2020, the number of people without a place to live in the United States grew by more than 2%. In Washington state, that number was much more, at 6.2%, the third highest increase in the nation. And, according to The Seattle Times, “Nationwide, 15% more chronically homeless people were counted that year, driven by increased numbers of people living outside.” Tedd Kelleher, senior managing director of housing assistance at the state’s Department of Commerce, said officials have been so focused on pandemic initiatives that they haven’t had time to really look into that year’s data. “The world is so different now,” he claimed.
The Evergreen State also saw a 20% increase in family homelessness during that timeframe. “People are seeing a lot more families in encampments, in cars,” Derrick Belgarde, deputy director of Chief Seattle Club, reported. “And there’s a lack of resources for that.”
Housing And Rental Properties
Even though there’s a moratorium on evictions in many states, there are still plenty of families as well as individuals losing their lodgings, and trying to find another place to live can be quite the challenge. The cost of living varies from state to state. For example, a $1,400 stimulus check wouldn’t cover a month’s rent in the Seattle area, but in Central California it could pay for two or even three months, depending on location and size of the dwelling. Daniel Malone, executive director of nonprofit Downtown Emergency Service Center in Washington, said rents were not compatible with fixed incomes, and there’s only so much low-income housing available. “People who maybe in past eras maybe would have managed to extricate themselves from homelessness even though they had very low incomes aren’t able to,” he explained. “And many people cross the threshold into chronic homelessness.”
Homeless camps have consumed residential and business areas alike, driving down property values while crime rates soar. In an op-ed for The Seattle Times, Jason Rantz wrote:
“It took eight months, over 60 calls to 911, 10 arsons/illegal burns, five domestic violence incidents, four assaults, three sex offenses and an attempt to burn an officer alive in his patrol vehicle, to get Seattle officials to clear a massive downtown homeless encampment.”
He puts a lot of the blame on local government, which, according to Rantz, is not doing enough to help the homeless or the citizens in the surrounding areas. He continued:
“Open-air drug deals and use are rampant. Assaults and illegal burns are frequent. Angry and hostile homeless people, many times dealing with untreated mental illness, threaten each other and the general public.
“Then there’s the human suffering. Homeless people stuck living outdoors in a brutal Seattle winter that saw a significant snowstorm and, at times, unrelenting rain. Addicts not getting help, surrounded by piles of garbage and human waste by the ton. Domestic violence victims living on the streets without a helping hand.”
Hotels and motels have been confiscated (or at least attempts have been made) to house the homeless, but that hasn’t even put a dent in the problem. City parks are overrun with the displaced, causing unease and fear among those who live in the neighborhoods. Sidewalks and underpasses are littered with trash, human feces, temporary shelters, drug paraphernalia, and more.
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COVID-19 Strikes Again
Even though homelessness has been an ongoing problem for decades, especially in Democrat-run states where the underprivileged are welcomed with open arms, the pandemic has done much to exacerbate the crisis. Thousands (if not more) business owners have lost their companies, and many more employees have lost their jobs.
Day-to-day tasks for many transients include making their rounds to dumpsters, looking for useful items and even food. With restaurants closed or offering only limited services, finding or receiving leftovers has not been easy. Hospitals, doctors’ offices, dentists, gyms, and even some shelters have had to dramatically reduce the number of clients they can service. While this was more than an inconvenience for everyone, for the homeless it was a lifeline that has been practically severed. And to top it off, the months of riots in cities like Seattle and Portland have made it even more difficult to find a safe place to sleep, often forcing the homeless to take refuge in large groups at city parks.
President Joe Biden’s decision to scrap Donald Trump’s immigration reform has led to a tsunami of illegal immigrants flooding the nation’s southern border. The number of aliens trying to come into the United States has practically doubled, causing some states to sue the president. Really, it’s a no-brainer and not a stretch of the imagination to understand that many of these people do not have a place to live when they make the trek to the United States. While some may have relatives they can stay with, where do the others live? Especially those who escaped the notice of border patrol agents.
The federal government is using a lot of resources to take care of immigrants while trying to figure out where to put them. Local officials struggle to find funding to care for their homeless population as well as illegal immigrant communities. As more migrants cross the border, the tragic plight of the homeless will likely increase.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.
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