Rising homelessness: The reality of life for America's poor in the "greatest economy ever"
On any given night across the US, more than 500,000 Americans are homeless, according to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and distributed to Congress on Monday.
The report is a sobering view that the economy is far from great, but is actually completing a turning point as the next economic downturn is in sight.
Homeless trends across the country are accelerating for the second year in a row.
In Massachusetts, HUD data shows homelessness jumped 14.2% from 2017 to 2018, an increase of more than 2,500 people, the most significant jump in the nation.
The latest figures show an estimated 20,000 people are homeless in the state. That population has fluctuated in the last several years, — it was higher, for instance, in 2014 and 2015, said WBUR Boston.
Since the 2008 stock market crash, homelessness in Massachusetts has soared by nearly 5,000 people, or 33%.
The vast majority of people currently homeless are sheltered, according to HUD.
Charlie Baker, Governor of Massachusetts, has made it a top priority to move homeless people from motels, tent cities, and temporary shelters to more stable housing options.
Besides the real economy that is on life support, the Federal Reserve artificially juiced the real estate market by holding the federal funds rate at the zero lower bound for many years. In return, housing prices soared as wages did not keep pace. Many people were priced out of homes and could barely afford rent.
The housing affordability crisis has been a significant driver of homelessness for the Greater Boston region and many parts of the state.
“Our state and local partners are increasingly focused on finding lasting solutions to homelessness even as they struggle against the headwinds of rising rents,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson, said in a statement.
Nationwide, a 2% rise in the unsheltered homeless population has been seen this year - those are people living in vehicles, tents, and or on the city streets.
However, the report does show a glimmer of hope for the homeless crisis on the West Coast.
The total number of people living on the streets in Los Angeles and San Diego, two epicenters of the homelessness crisis, slightly declined in 2018, suggesting officials in those cities are actively combatting the problem.
In the eyes of the Trump administration, mega-corporations, and Wall Street, it is the "greatest economy ever," but under the hood, the real economy is faltering, millions are broke, without jobs, living on the streets, and or addicted to opioids. America is imploding from within - the next recession will undoubtedly expand the homelessness crisis.