California is enjoying unprecedented economic growth right now. California is the world’s 9th largest economy by itself and it is the center of American innovation and economic progress. This has created challenges that the state and the federal government was simply not prepared to handle. The chief among these was housing. Housing in California has been expensive for a long time. Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and even Sacramento have all had notoriously expensive housing for many decades. The traffic has been impossible since the 1970s (at least) and the cost of housing has been a problem for the youth, especially youth from poorer backgrounds, for the last 30 years or so.

California is in the midst of a housing crisis that directly related not only to their tremendous economic progress but an overall change in the national economy that provides jobs to high skill workers leaving those with fewer skills or a lack of education in those skills behind.

L.A., in particular, has spent millions of dollars to combat homelessness and has provided various services including safe parking lots for those living in their cars. However, the only way to really solve this crisis is affordable housing. The expense of affordable housing makes private development unsustainable without government help. Construction costs have risen dramatically in recent years and the cost of land in California is notoriously high. For many there are only two options: leave California altogether or live in their car or on the street.

Hidden Homelessness

This video from Vice illustrates the problems in California perfectly. When this woman was laid off from her job, she found that while she had great skills, she did not have the education required to get another job in her field of accounting. She decided to go back to school to get the required education and found herself unable to afford housing for herself and her daughter. They now live out of her van.

Working Poor

No one imagines that someone who is working and has a job would be homeless. However, in California, due to the cost of housing, this has become a problem for some workers who, while maintaining a job simply cannot afford basic housing. In this video from CBS, this man works a regular job and has to live in his car in L.A. because housing is simply to expensive.

On the Streets: L.A.

If you want to watch a complete view of the situation in L.A. than this feature documentary from the L.A. Times is a must-watch film. It is an hour but well worth the watch to see the stories and see how people survive on the streets of L.A. with no real shelter and relying on services and the kindness of others just to survive. This great documentary (great for a lunch time watch with a snack!) analyzing the problems of the street people of L.A.