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A new federal study observes that over half a million people are homeless on any single night, adding that the number of homeless in New York has grown by over four percent in the past year alone. On the west coast of the US, homeless populations in Seattle, Oakland, Portland and San Diego have risen.
Many point to late-20th century moves by the Reagan administration in which federal investment in low-income housing was slashed. Most people on the verge of homelessness do not receive any form of government assistance in the US, the study observed.
“The problem is that a vast majority of homeless people are not living in the streets, they are not visible, they are not in shelter,” said Tull, a founder of Partnering for Change. According to Tull, most homeless people actually live part time with relatives or friends, or in motels, or squatting in abandoned buildings.
Renting five rooms in one house for five different families is common, as it allows cheaper rent for all, but people who opt for these temporary measure are still, by definition, homeless.
“The income gap between the rich and the poor has grown increasingly to the point that the middle class is slowly disappearing,” Tull observed.
“City officials, homeless advocates and those living on the streets point to the main culprit: the region’s booming economy,” according to an AP report. Rents have soared for many low-wage workers who until just a just few years ago could typically find housing. Now, even a temporary setback can be enough to leave them out on the street, the agency reported. As incomes do not increase to match costs of living, a recent spike in homelessness signals an even greater increase of the potentially deadly social problem.