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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Homelessness in California

  • Author(s): Quigley, John M.
  • Raphael, Steven
  • Smolensky, Eugene
  • et al.

Rapidly rising homelessness in the 1980s shocked Americans and led to a flurry of studies, a deluge of news stories, and to Public Law 100-77, the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of July 1987. The McKinney Act marked the entrance of the federal government into homelessness policy, which, until then, had been a purely local issue. A dozen years later, housing the homeless remains a recurrent political issue in many cities in California. Improving the quality of life of those without a regular and decent place to spend the night rests primarily with a multitude of nonprofit organizations. Meagerly funded by all levels of government, they must not only house the homeless but must also attend to their many personal problems. While a multifaceted approach is probably required to eliminate the homelessness problem, in California homelessness might be substantially reduced with modest policy changes attacking the problem in the most obvious way: by adding to the stock of adequate housing accessible to the poor. We explore options that aim to do exactly that in this monograph.

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