What’s the main cause of homelessness?

July 25, 2022

Greetings! I hope you’re enjoying our sweet SoCal summer days and nights. There are a few things on my mind this week that I’d like to share with you.

What’s the main cause of homelessness?

I recently came across a fascinating article in the San Diego Union-Tribune about a new book which suggests that the lack of an area’s affordable housing is an often-overlooked key factor in the causes of homelessness.

That may seem completely obvious to some, but the authors of Homelessness is a Housing Problem say their research shows current remedies tend to focus more on treatment for mental health problems, addiction, substance abuse and other issues. 

The findings of authors Clayton Page Aldern, a data scientist and policy analyst in Seattle, and Gregg Colburn, an assistant professor of real estate at the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments, show that cities across the nation with the highest number of people experiencing homelessness per thousand residents have one thing in common – scarce affordable housing.

Today’s San Diego Union-Tribune has a similar story about the financial basis behind homelessness, entitled “New Report on Homelessness: Biggest Factor Is Economics.”

My experience is that most people do not make a strong connection between an inability to access housing that is affordable and rising levels of homelessness. When I’m elected as your new State Senator, strategies to address homelessness will be among my top priorities.

Myths vs. Facts

The General Election campaigns have begun, and already the Republican Party is spending tens of thousands of dollars to put up negative ads online about me. (We know who is funding the ads because it states the source on the ad.)

Hold on tight – this is just the beginning as we enter the home stretch of this campaign.

Unfortunately, these hit pieces stray very far from reality, so my campaign has posted a helpful Myths vs. Facts page on our website to set the record straight against the prevarications and twisted facts. It’s a shame that they resort to deception in the effort to defeat me this November. There are plenty of things that could be said about me that point to actual policy differences. For instance, I support a woman’s right to choose, protecting our coastline from offshore oil drilling, and making our community safer by reducing gun violence.

California bans gun shows on state lands

People from NeverAgainCA protest outside the Crossroads of the West gun show at Del Mar fairgrounds in 2018. (Photo by Howard Lipin/Encinitas Advocate.)

I’m thankful for the leadership of Senator Dave Min (D – Irvine) for championing SB 915, which bans firearms and ammunition sales on state property. California is the first state to enact such a law.

Previous legislation had already banned gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. But guns sold at other large events on state property in Riverside, Ventura, and elsewhere still make their way into our communities. The state should not be complicit in creating the gun violence epidemic and I’m grateful to see this state legislation. 

This is another positive step in our ongoing, effective efforts to reduce gun violence. According to the Governor’s office, in 2021, California was ranked as the top state in the nation for gun safety. As California strengthened its gun laws, the state saw a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average.

Meanwhile, other states such as Florida and Texas, with lax gun regulations, saw double-digit increases in the rate of gun deaths.

Check out this graph below:

As a result of the actions taken by California, the state has cut its gun death rate in half and Californians are 25% less likely to die in a mass shooting compared to people in other states. (Data courtesy of Giffords Law Center and National Center for Health Statistics. Graph courtesy of @MarcRummy.)

I’m also particularly interested in following a recently signed law as it makes its way through the court system. It allows private citizens to sue anyone involved in facilitating ghost guns or assault weapons, which are banned in the state. Here’s a CNN story about it.  

Additional gun violence-reduction measures signed by the Governor can be seen here.

Gabby Giffords won’t back down!

One last gun violence-related item – last week I watched a moving new documentary, Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down, about her relentless fight to recover following an assassination attempt in 2011, and her new life as one of the most effective activists in the battle for gun violence prevention. It also touchingly depicts her close marriage to Arizona’s astronaut senator Mark Kelly.

I highly recommend this film! It rates a very rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and you can watch the trailer here. It’s only in theaters now (as of this writing it’s at the AMC Mission Valley 20 in San Diego), so if you’re interested, I suggest that you act fast. 

We’re making real progress by recycling

Last year, I highlighted the kitchen caddies provided to every household in Encinitas to start composting their organics and make our waste stream more sustainable. I also toured EDCO’s organics digester where the waste from green bins is turned into clean natural gas.

One of the reasons we were able accomplish this was because of a state law requiring agencies to compost organics by the beginning of this year. It provided the needed push for city governments to act in this area, and in Encinitas we embraced it. 

If you would prefer smaller scale composting or your city isn’t offering food waste recycling yet, check out Food2Soil, which was featured in the Home and Garden section of today’s U-T.

I’m equally excited about SB 54, which was signed into law last month and will phase in higher recycling percentage requirements for plastic packaging. Currently, 85% of plastic packaging ends up in landfills, but by 2032, that number will have to be less than 35%. This bill also avoided a ballot initiative fight, which saved time and money.

The bill by Senator Ben Allen establishes producer responsibility for plastic waste. More information about this positive step forward is in this Bloomberg Law article. 

City commissions are a great way to make a difference!

My first government service in Encinitas was on the Traffic and Public Safety Commission (now the Mobility and Traffic Safety Commission). Commissions are a fantastic way for civically engaged residents to serve their community and make an impact on city policy – plus, they’re a perfect place to start if you ever decide to run for office. 

In Encinitas, the application period is open for a Leucadia resident on the Mobility and Traffic Safety Commission and there is also an at-large vacancy on the Senior Citizen Commission.

State law requires cities to post upcoming vacancies on their websites, and below are the links to the available boards and commissions in the cities of the 38th Senate district. If you live in one of the cities or counties below and you’re interested in serving, check it out!

I’m looking forward to seeing you on the campaign trail over the next several weeks. Stay tuned for some fun events and opportunities to come…

With gratitude and enthusiasm,

Sorry, you are not in the 38th Senate District.
You are in the 38th Senate district!