A new statewide study focusing on homelessness in California found that the homeless population is aging, disproportionately represents minority groups and is predominantly made up of people who lived in the state before becoming homeless.
The University of California, San Francisco Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative conducted the study, considered the largest examination of homeless adults in nearly 30 years.
The study was conducted from October 2021 until November 2022.
Researchers found that more than 171,000 people experience homelessness daily in California. The Golden State represents about 12% of the nation’s population, has 30% of the country’s homeless population and nearly half of its unsheltered population, according to the report.
While homelessness is a complex issue, many survey respondents said that the high cost of housing is one of the main reasons behind their situation.
“The results of the study confirm that far too many Californians experience homelessness because they cannot afford housing,” Margot Kushel, the principal investigator of CASPEH, said in a statement.
“Through thousands of survey responses and hundreds of in-depth interviews, the study’s findings reflect the incalculable personal costs of homelessness.”
Before becoming homeless, many respondents said they received a median monthly income of $960, while the median rent in California is $2,895, according to data from Zillow Rental Manager.
The report also found that the median age of people experiencing homelessness is 47, a disproportionate amount of people experiencing homelessness identify as Black, Native American, or Latino and about 90% of respondents became homeless while living in California.
Multiple state and city leaders have vowed to address the homeless crisis during their time in office. Most recently, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said she hopes to end street homelessness by 2026.
To help end the homeless crisis in California, the study authors believe that politicians should increase access to affordable housing for extremely low-income households, extend targeted homelessness prevention and increase homeless outreach, among other incentives.
The complete study can be viewed here.