Expand City-Funded Housing Choice Voucher Program into Alameda County

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Homelessness in the major cities of the U.S. is a rapidly-growing issue. According to the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, about 16% of Alameda County’s adults are living in poverty, and a good handful of these people are on the road to homelessness. The homelessness epidemic in Alameda County has become a major issue, controlling the lives of the ones experiencing it directly and affecting those living in the cities in which it is most prevalent. In an interview we conducted with Darin Lounds, the Executive Director of the Housing Consortium of the East Bay, he explains, “In Oakland and the East Bay, housing creation has fallen way short of population growth[...]. People with resources get housing and others are left without. Economic homelessness and shortage of stock makes the problem worse.” There are not enough affordable homes for low-income people to live in, so they become homeless. Because we live in such a thriving urban environment, homelessness has expanded with the increase in housing costs. Due to this growing issue, the crime rate is increasing and countless people are being put in danger. The homeless are at great risk of being exposed to crimes or being victims of crimes. Amy Graff, writing for SFgate, reports, “Living on the street increases a person's chances of being a victim of rape and hate crimes” (Graff, San Francisco homelessness Q&A: Frequently asked questions, answers, 2017). As a consequence of the expanding homelessness, the crime rate in Alameda County is accelerating, affecting not only the homeless but all citizens. According to eocp.net, there are approximately 16,000 homeless people in Alameda County. This means that 16,000 people living in our county, our home are at extremely increased risk of being raped or experiencing hate crimes. Homelessness is a growing problem that already has deep roots in Alameda County. Hence, we must take steps to prevent and eventually cease this issue.

 

With the severity of homelessness throughout the Alameda County today, we request that you work to expand the Local Operating Subsidy Program into the entire Alameda County. We believe that the only way to get to the root of this issue is to support the big forces trying to solve homelessness. The Local Operating Subsidy Program, or LOSP, is a program that distributes subsidies to people with limited income in San Francisco purely using city, non-federal funding to help individuals rent homes. We propose that LOSP is expanded into all of Alameda County, instead of dwelling only in San Francisco. This legislative shift would make finding a home in Alameda County easier for low-income people, and it only requires an extension of a preexisting system. We live in a highly urban environment, one in which poverty is widespread and ever-changing. As the poverty rate grows, political shifts are causing many benefits to go away. In an interview we conducted with Darin Lounds, ED of Housing Consortium of the East Bay, we discussed how the current president is making negative changes in housing across the U.S. He mentions that “[Trump] cut funding to HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). This eliminates housing choice vouchers which help people use vouchers to rent homes in the marketplace.” Federal funding is no longer reliable and there is a growing gap between supply and demand of Section 8 Vouchers (federally-funded housing choice vouchers). In order to help our people, we must resort to city funding to provide similar support. This program would help make subsidies easier to get without making changes on a federal level. If our ideas are implemented, homelessness in Alameda County will decrease and a helping hand will be provided for many of those struggling with poverty. Furthermore, this will help solve many branching issues with public health and increasing crime rates.


Sincerely,

Aden Lounds and Jonah Ifcher


adenlounds@gmail.com and jonah.ifcher@ousd.us



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