At present, more than half of the American population lives paycheck to paycheck, and the economic effects of the coronavirus have only made things much worse. The number of homeless people is projected to increase exponentially in the near future, and this is not only because of the coronavirus either. The failing economy had produced large numbers of homeless people all over the country already before the coronavirus even began spreading. The fact that something decisive has to be done to provide people with affordable housing is no longer an argument. How exactly to accomplish this is the pressing issue.
Rent Control Measures
In recent years, the weakening economy has forced many landlords to raise their rent amounts to keep up with inflation and the costs of owning property. Other landlords have increased their rents simply out of greed and unethical business practices in general. This has forced some states to mandate rent control laws that limit how much landlords can charge their tenants.
An example of this is the Costa Hawkins law of California that was enacted in 1995. Today, it’s obvious that this hasn’t been enough to keep countless people off the streets. There are calls from both tenants and landlords for this law to be repealed. Such is the case with these kinds of rent control laws; they have never really helped solve the problem.
Low-Income Apartment Development
Cities have many tools available to them to provide affordable housing, but their local governments have failed to use these tools effectively. For example, in the city of Dallas, they have wanted to speed up the approval process for developers to build affordable housing. The red tape always involved land permits for building low-income housing. It has been so bad that developers shy away from building these, not because they wouldn’t be profitable, but because of the very real possibility that they might waste time and money doing it.
Cities could also offer their vacant lands to developers for building affordable housing units. The land could be offered to developers at a lower price. In Los Angeles, land owned by the city was recently designated for building temporary housing shelters. In more promising news, there are discussions for a permanent shelter in Koreatown, which is owned by the city of Los Angeles.