Column: Could extreme heat be just what California needs to finally solve homelessness?
California is facing its biggest housing crisis in decades. Its homelessness crisis, in turn, is likely to worsen: Homelessness doubled between July and October as homelessness grew at its fastest rate since 1997.
The good news, as always, is that a vast number of Californians, including many of those who are unsheltered themselves, have shown they are willing to try unconventional solutions to solve the crisis, from building shelters for homeless people to building cheap housing.
We have seen innovative solutions throughout California’s long history of housing crisis, but perhaps none have been as creative as the development of a $1.1 million-a-month shelter for those without homes. A New York Times story on the project that provides a tiny room of temporary shelter at a public park says that the “temporary community is intended to help people who want to get out of the crisis as quickly as possible, while also preventing the kinds of conflicts that can lead to the creation of a permanent encampment.”
We wonder whether the shelter would be the kind of small, temporary, and relatively inexpensive housing that could be used to prevent the creation of a permanent encampment that could then result in mass displacement or homelessness.
It is worth noting that the project’s success has prompted a proposal to create thousands of such shelters in California, a proposal that is opposed by some on the right led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein. (We have previously covered attempts to expand California’s state-funded housing programs, such as providing vouchers and tax credits to people with low incomes who want to move out of the state. But these measures are in need of legislative support.)
With San Francisco’s housing crisis, we have seen some innovative approaches: It provided for homeless people to live in small rooms at the YMCA for two years in the 1970s. The city has been involved in housing a homeless population