A discussion about California’s homelessness issue

Hector Morales, Reporter

A summit was held to discuss California’s homelessness issue over a Zoom webinar on Sept. 30. The event was organized by the Income Property Association of Kern. Many viewers attended from all over the nation. The basis of the conversation was the connection between homelessness and lack of housing in California
A panelist, Ian Sharples who is the executive director of IPAK, mentioned the “last mile problem” which is a term for people who cannot use their housing vouchers since they are about to expire. He explained these vouchers are important because they can help a family rent a sanitary and safe home.
Curt Williams, superintendent of schools, was also another key speaker in the summit. Williams stated, “21% of homelessness come from families with children.” He also stated, “The homeless youth ranges from ages 18-24.” Williams made it clear that we need to drop all the stereotypes we have on homeless people. The panelists also discussed that California has a lot of real estate, but that does not mean that there is housing for every family. Financial stability can change a family’s state of being quickly. California has a shortage of housing, and Kern County ranks 19th among the states leading homeless people.
Greg Terzakis, CAA’s senior vice president for central California, touched the dilemma on prop 21. Prop 21 will enforce stricter rent control which will give local government control, which can lead to a bad fate for many renters in California, especially families with housing vouchers. Prop would only benefit landlords, local government, contractors etc.
The webinar ended with Chuck Marohn, who is the founder of the non-profit media group Strong Town. Marohn discussed how housing in California is like a trap since housing costs are expensive and can be a burden on a family. He also talked about how prices on the housing market increase each year and how cities ignore the problem. Marohn states “No city should be exempt from change, but not have radical change as well.” Cities tend to fund projects such as a new restaurant or a new park, but never seem to want to fix the housing issue. For example, Ian Sharples stated that Bakersfield needed 1,500 units for housing but was only cleared for 259. Marohn hopes to adapt old ideas from WWII into our new civilization.
IPAK also accepts pledges from landlords who want to rent out their homes to people who have housing vouchers.