According to the survey in the 2018 Point-in-Time Count (PITC) of homeless people in San Diego County, the four main reasons for becoming homeless are: Loss of Job; Money Issues; Cost of Housing, and Other. Abuse/Violence ranks lowest. But this survey is missing input from thousands of families, as I explained in my prior column, so in reality, fleeing from domestic violence could be a major cause of homelessness. So too could deportation of the primary breadwinner be a factor, which is not even listed as an option, but is a contributing factor for some homeless families.
Underlying those four highest causes are specific failings in our current economic system, such as: jobs that don’t pay enough to cover the basics; lack of reasonable family planning; unsustainable rent increases; lack of affordable housing for people with extremely low incomes; social safety nets that are cut off as soon as a family starts to get on their feet, leaving them worse off; a broken health care system, and racism that sets young blacks and Latinos up for failure.
I’ve been told, “Don’t go there,” when I suggest that homelessness is a symptom of an economic system struggling to stay alive. But if we can’t be honest about the systemic causes of homelessness, we are doomed to be the archetypal dog chasing its tail. It’s my opinion that homelessness has a symbiotic relationship with unchecked capitalism – both being a result of it, and serving to sustain it. The “tell” in this game is the recent escalation of the criminalization of homelessness. [Read more…]