"We are working tirelessly to continue expanding shelter, housing, and supportive services throughout San Francisco, the openings of these two new sites add hundreds of new beds for people to transition off our streets into shelter, and get them on a path to stable housing instead of camping in our neighborhoods." London Breed, Mayor of the city of San Francisco (July 2022)
Date of Event: Tuesday, March 12th 2024
Time of Event: 9:30 AM — 5:00 PM PST
Place of Event: UCLA Luskin Conference Center
Over half a million individuals are experiencing homelessness as of 2022, marking a 6% rise since 2017. While COVID relief efforts have created new opportunities to expand relief, the impact of the pandemic cannot be understated. Rising rent prices and stagnant wages have put most Americans in a vulnerable position where the smallest economic shock could force them out of their homes. The pandemic continues to push people past the brink while others are still trying to recover from the medical and economic impacts of COVID-19. Most pandemic-era protections have ended and now state and local stakeholders are being forced to deal with more challenges and fewer resources.
Even before the pandemic, Americans have been facing an increasingly skewed system that remains to be addressed. Most people of color experience homelessness at a higher rate than their white counterparts in part because of our nation’s oppressive history. This has also made people of color more likely to be displaced by climate disasters that are expected to rise. Nonbinary and trans individuals also experience unique barriers to receiving housing assistance that make accessing shelter and assistance nearly impossible. Our solutions to housing insecurity must also be targetted and catered to the needs of every population or aid will be less impactful. The different ways that an individual can end up homeless shows how disruptive our inequities are and requires a coordinated solution across every sector of our society.
Immediate sources of eviction relief remain to be utilized nationwide while other programs that began during the pandemic are now set to end and many benefited from relief unequally. Discriminatory and antiquated zoning laws make long-term sources of affordable housing difficult to obtain. Inflation and the cost of construction also skews the deck in favor of building expensive high-rises rather than affordable housing which means that policymakers must consider creative solutions to correct the market. Interest groups and NIMBYism have also been a significant political challenge to both shelters and affordable housing. In general there will be no one silver bullet to solve our unsheltered and affordable housing crisis so considering every possible solution is imperative.
This symposium is an opportunity for case managers, non-profit leaders, community organizers, developers, and other key stakeholders to reflect on new or underutilized solutions, identify emerging challenges, and deepen their understanding of homelessness. Facilitating an exchange between different sectors will allow everyone to benefit from the other's perspective while learning from experts in the field. It will allow delegates to share and develop new ways of protecting the unsheltered. Participants can transfer these lessons and best practices to their own communities whether at the local, state, or national level.
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