Surging Homelessness Calls For A New, Community-Based Approach

Homelessness is a chronic issue plaguing our society at large. Since the 2008 recession, the problem is not getting better but only worse.

California is one of the major states continually struggling to deal with a rising homeless population which is now estimated at 27,000 – a number that’s expected to grow even more if left unattended.

In response to this growing crisis, the city of Los Angeles has stepped up and initiated an aggressive approach.  On June 29, 2016, the City Council unanimously voted 14-0 to put a $1.2 billion bond measure on the November ballot to raise money to fight homelessness.

The measure, if passed, is aimed at providing resources for the homeless for the next decade which would include comprehensive services such as shelters, permanent housing, drug and alcohol treatment and mental health services. It would also provide affordable housing to at-risk people and families, ranging from the elderly to battered women and their children (Jablon, 2016).

Current Status of Homelessness

Homelessness is not an issue unique to Los Angeles.  Its growing magnitude and prevalence are affecting tens of thousands of Americans nationwide.  Every year, an increasing number of cities across the nation are being affected by this epidemic.

Homelessness is no longer a problem specific to a particular city or a county. This seemingly marginalized population is now consisted of men, women, children, veterans, families, and seniors. The extent to which homelessness is afflicting the nation as a whole is troubling.

Innovative Approach Tailored to Community Needs

More and more, the government-funded programs are not enough to effectively respond to the chronicity of the problem.

As a result, a growing number of cities are mobilizing community-based resources to come up with a more creative and innovative approach to combating the problem through proactive ideas and actionable plans.

Palisades is one of the first to initiate this endeavor implementing a private, philanthropic approach to ending homelessness. In Palisades, residents created a task force and developed a three-year plan to raise $500,000 private fund to bring in services for its homeless (Goodale, 2015).

Other cities are also following suit. Since 2012, the Fullerton Police Department has partnered with the Coast to Coast Foundation and Orange County Mental Health Services to provide homeless individuals and families with immediate assistance and care. The collaborative efforts have since delivered assistance to more than 1,530 individuals in need (PublicCEO, 2016).

Similarly, Stanton has formed a partnership with the nearby Illumination Foundation, which resulted in the creation of the Stanton Multi-Service Center that now offers multi-faceted services to the homeless including financial counseling, mental health services, and emergency care. The city’s homeless population has since decreased by about a third (Goodale, 2015).

Sonoma County is another community that has secured $75,000 contract on a local level to find a suitable site to develop an affordable housing plan for homeless people to live in on a long-term basis (ibid.).


As successfully illustrated above, homelessness must be tackled with a holistic and yet individualized approach tailored to meet the specific challenges of a particular community.

The cookie-cutter method of the law-enforcement approach used in the past whereby homeless people are criminalized and discriminated is no longer working nor is it an option.

Every homeless individual and family is faced with different challenges which must be uniquely and respectfully addressed without relying on the generic or traditional response of marginalizing their status.

Homelessness is a societal, community, and family issue affecting the entire humanity. Just like any other public issues, there is no quick fix to homelessness.  This is why it is no longer sufficient to resort exclusively to the government-sponsored programs and funds to tackle the growing problem at hand.  It desperately calls for more collaborative, collective efforts on all fronts.

When it comes to homelessness, no one may be solely responsible but everyone is equally accountable.


Goodale, G. December 1, 2015. June 29, 2016. Many California communities take a law-enforcement approach to homelessness. But not Pacific Palisades. Retrieved from

Jablon, R. June 29, 2016. Associated Press. LA votes to put $1.2 billion homeless measure on ballot. Retrieved from

PublicCEO. League of California Cities. June 1, 2016. Fullerton’s New Approach to Homeless Support. Retrieved from

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