Much ado was made of last summer's "successful" housing of over 200 people who had encamped along Venice Beach, California's historic oceanfront boardwalk. While a certain amount of "vagrancy" has been a part of Venice since the 1920s, the COVID-19 pandemic saw the area turn into a shanty town of displaced persons. Not simply a few people sleeping it off or struggling with various forms of health care deficiencies so popular in America today, but economic refugees simply unable to afford to live in Los Angeles established a 1.5mi long string of huts, shacks and tents fronting the stores and restaurants.
The City, County, and local homeless service agencies congratulated themselves on a mission accomplished! The people on the boardwalk appeared to all have found homes.
A few months later, a giant camp of similar size sprang up at the Venice Beach branch of the Los Angeles Public Library and was allowed to grow until very recently. Immediately following the clearing of that camp, the number of people camping at the beach exploded.
We need to find ways to make actual housing available to people. This recent study makes it very clear that the key problem in homelessness is a lack of housing. All the other factors that can contribute are certainly meaningful, but the key to helping solve all of them is to get people into safe places they can call home.