Orange County, California, like much of the state, has seen tremendous house price gains since the great recession. Over time, residents who had access to cheap credit could afford to live in the county, resulting in a significant gap between the rich and poor.
A new 149-page report from Orange County's 2019 homeless Point In Time Count published on July 30 to the Board of Supervisors, sheds more light into the expanding wealth gap that has left the county with a homelessness crisis, reported Orange County Register.
According to the report, 6,860 people were counted as homeless in Orange County in January, up 43% from two years earlier.
The findings reveal black, African American or multi-racial, as well as Hispanic or Latino families, make up an increasing percentage of homeless people in the county.
White people represented the largest single group of homeless people: more than two-thirds of individuals with and without shelter.
About 8.41% of homeless people in the county without shelter were black or American. A little over 12% of the unsheltered are described as "Multiple Races" (no definition provided) or "Other," compared to 3.5% overall.
The survey found more men were homeless (4,310 or 62%) than women (2,546).
County supervisors discussed Tuesday at a meeting about ideas to defeating homelessness. Their plan: build more affordable housing with support services.
"Not just in Orange County, but across the state, we have a shortage of both affordable and available housing to meet the needs of our populations," said Susan Price, the county's coordinator of homeless services.
Price said 600 shelter beds were created in Orange County over the last several years, in anticipation of a surge in homelessness.
"We're working on the system in all components…to the endgame, which is housing for everyone."
- About one in four homeless people in Orange County – totaling 1,654 people – reported having mental health issues.
A total of 311 homeless veterans were counted in the survey. Price said the county's plan is to house 20 veterans per month.
Advocates criticized the county for allowing home prices to soar in the last decade while doing very little for affordable housing. They said many of these homeless people could not afford to rent or own because of prices outpacing their wages.
Several months ago, we cited ATTOM Data Solutions' 2Q19 US Home Affordability Report, that said Orange County was one of the most unaffordable housing markets for the average American.
And it certainly seems California's housing affordability crisis is getting worse, has resulted in an explosion in the homeless population not just in Orange County, but also in San Francisco and Los Angeles County. With no end in sight, California's homelessness crisis is expected to deepen in the early 2020s.