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Can you imagine what your life would look like if you didn’t have a home? For millions of Americans, this isn’t something they need to imagine, because this is the reality they live in. Ever since health crisis’ restrictions were put into place – triggering the widespread shutdown of U.S. businesses – unemployment rates have soared. In fact, America has seen an unemployment rate higher than at any time in the country’s history, including the Great Depression. As a multitude of workers started to struggle with job loss, many of them simply became unable to afford rent or mortgage payments. Millions are still at the brink of eviction, while others already lost their homes.
At this point, as the number of people without a home rapidly rose across the country, it has been hard to keep track of the real rate of homelessness. Recent estimates suggest that there are at least 1.5 million homeless people in the U.S., and over the past 12 months, even with the CDC’s moratorium, that number never ceased to grow. While the wealthy engage in fierce bidding wars, pay over a million dollars above the asking price for a home, and purchase entire neighborhoods for a quick profit, affordable housing has become impossible to find. Rents have been ticking up too. And all of that is contributing to force more and more impoverished Americans into the streets with each passing day. What we’re seeing in 2021 is rapidly becoming a crisis of epic proportions.
Believe it or not, this crisis is more severe in the wealthiest state of the nation. California’s homeless problem has been out of control for decades, but things have significantly worsened after the health crisis began. Approximately 160,000 homeless people currently live in the state, but many believe that the official figure is way too low. Even though California alone is known as an economic superpower, its high cost of living, lack of affordable housing, scattershot efforts with too many agencies, too much red tape, and the lack of a clear direction have all made tackling homelessness in the state even harder. However, the homelessness crisis is growing all over the country. What many Americans are failing to realize is that the reality of those who live in the streets right now is not so far away from those who live paycheck-to-paycheck. Sometimes, all it takes is one unexpected event to push a person straight into poverty.
With rich investors buying entire neighborhoods to transform them into rental units so that they can charge exceedingly high rent prices, and, on the other hand, low-income workers are effectively losing the opportunity to ever own a home due to this extremely competitive housing market, we’re headed to a future where only those who can afford to pay expensive rents will have a roof over their heads. In case something happens and you lose your income, you might end up in the streets just as well. In about two weeks, the nationwide eviction moratorium will expire, and economists have been warning that millions more Americans could soon be forced out of their homes, in what they called an “eviction tsunami”.
At least 5.7 million Americans, which represent almost 14% of all renters nationwide, had fallen behind on their rent in April. A study released by the National Equity Atlas exposed that tenants owed approximately $20 billion in rent, with low-income people among those worst affected. By May, over 40% of the 7 million tenants behind on rent at the time worried that they could be evicted in the next two months, according to the US Treasury. It’s safe to say that now, the rate of tenants behind on rent payments is far greater.
This crisis is leaving a dark trail all over the nation. And even though some may argue that the government stimulus money may be helping these people, the truth is that the vast majority of the trillions that have been borrowed and spent over the past year were pumped into the financial system and never actually reached those who needed the most. Our leaders have managed to make life much harder for these people as inflation pressures have sent the price of everything up, and those at the very bottom of the economic food chain have been particularly hard-hit by rising prices. At this stage, it doesn’t matter what politicians in Washington do, the homelessness crisis in the U.S. just seems to keep escalating. Millions of American citizens will sleep on the streets tonight, and many more will soon be joining them.”