On October 14th, 2016, the LA5 Rotary Club welcomed three recognized speakers that are doing everything they can to fight homelessness: Meg Barclay, Suzanne Wenzel, and Phil Ansel. One of the fundamental ways to combat homelessness is to first understand it. Unfortunately, homelessness is a complex and often misunderstood issue. Thankfully, our speakers were able to guide us fellow Rotarians to a much higher understanding. One of the most important contributing factors to homelessness in Los Angeles has been the shortage of affordable housing. The unmet demand sits at around half a million units. However, with current market conditions, skyrocketing rent and a vacancy rate of less than 2% makes it difficult for developers to be motivated to do something about it. Another observation of current market conditions is the extreme difficulty people are experiencing to enter the job market due to the global recession. An alarming number of these people are transitioning youth. Other demographics that are highly affected by homelessness in Los Angeles are people suffering from mental illnesses and late-stage health problems.
Where is Homelessness headed?
Currently, the homeless problem in Los Angeles is first and foremost a housing problem where permanent solutions are hard to find. Permanent solutions for the homeless are housing with built-in support for the people trying to assimilate back into normal life. However, the future state of homelessness in Los Angeles looks incredibly positive. In Los Angeles, as our panel explained, there is an unprecedented level of local government commitment to helping solve homelessness. Rotarians, with our continued efforts we can really make a difference in Los Angeles for the people suffering from homelessness. A great step in the process could be sharing this information with your friends and family. One of the main takeaways from this, was, in order to fight homelessness we understand it.