Homelessness is Solvable—A Cost-Effective and Impactful Solution to Homelessness

Homelessness is Solvable—A Cost-Effective and Impactful Solution to Homelessness - GBF BlogHomelessness is quite solvable. There is more than enough hope, and not just hope, but also resources for our homeless brothers and sisters to not only be given houses and communities for the rest of their lives but also for it to actually save costs for the government in the long run term.

Let’s explore what we mean by this and how The Global Bridge Foundation has a few cost-effective solutions for eliminating homelessness in the next few years in California, the USA, and eventually in the whole world. 

We have failed creativity and shortsighted practicality of both the homeless and the options that are already available or on the verge of being available for them. One of the main issues to be resolved is the courage to change regulations and allow our fellow humans who are unfortunately on the streets to live their potential with the right support.

One of the key issues that need to be changed by either the legislature, the Governor, the Mayor, or the City Council is that there needs to be a law that requires proportional responsibility from the counties with a homeless population.

For example, Los Angeles County has approximately 60,000 homeless people, and there are 87 cities in Los Angeles. If each county shouldered responsibility proportional to its homeless population, the overall responsibility to house the homeless would be shared by those 87 cities. The burden is not placed on the local politician because of their need to be re-elected. This takes the pressure off the local politicians, who are almost invariably unwilling to risk alienating their city or district by putting a homeless program in their neighborhood. 

So unless it’s mandated by law and overseen by a state czar and or a local community czar, it will not happen. We need a law that there must be proportional representation where there is this problem in any county in California. And for that matter, anywhere in the country. 

1. Low-income housing = less money used to create more housing 

One of the main points of contention is often just how expensive it is to house the homeless and continuously offer them a home. However, there are huge amounts of land that’s owned by  government agencies that could be bought for very low cost or donated, creating the alternative of reducing NIMBY, which is an acronym for “Not in My Backyard.” This is an alternative that could potentially house close to half the homeless population for significantly less cost.

Unlike California’s existing agricultural zoning laws, other US states and counties don’t have regulations prohibiting from using agricultural zoning land that’s not being currently used to house people other than farm workers. 

As of 2022, it costs $900,000 in California for a one-bedroom unit that has a kitchen, which is required by permanent supportive housing, along with a bathroom, living room, and bedroom, rather than having a central kitchen, where it would be dramatically more affordable. The alternative is to have up to four-bedroom units with or without a kitchen, perhaps a kitchenette.  This would lessen the cost to more than half in itself.

The idea behind low-cost housing is rooted in community living (which is a core aspect of being humans). We’ll explore the different types of communities below, but such living accommodations with central kitchens, rather than could reduce costs by nearly one-third!

There’s also another alternative that’s existing in Los Angeles that is being utilized,  where there are three separate general contracting firms building 10-bedroom, six-bath duplexes that are available for approximately $1.3 million (their prices have gone up $300,000 in the last year). Such a building can comfortably house 10 people.  This would result in the costs being approximately $130,000 per person rather than $900,000. Most cities would only need between 2-5  of these 10-bedroom, six-bath units, and it would house the homeless at a fraction of the cost. LA County has 87 cities, and if each city does its own share in reducing homelessness, it could help immensely. 

2. Job training = Allowing the homeless to contribute to society

Usually, the second issue people or governments find with solutions that eliminate homelessness is that they don’t allow homeless people to contribute back meaningfully. This, in turn, makes it seem like a futile endeavor. 

Foreseeing this, we’ve realized that a great way to allow the homeless to find their potential while contributing to society is to offer them job training at the very place they live. This is also where the community living aspect comes strongly into play.

One of the best jobs within this is training them in regenerative agriculture. The Global Bridge Foundation works with regenerative agriculture directly. We do this not only here in California with The People Concern, but several other programs in Los Angeles and a couple of others that are out of state. This kind of meaningful employment improves the individual’s self-esteem in utilizing their skills for the population. A huge part of the homeless community can create a product that the world badly needs, like food or clean energy. There are foundations that are there that are ready to teach skills for learning how to create clean energy and utilize solar power. For example, one of the foundations in the Los Angeles area is Grid Alternatives that’s mission is to help low-income individuals learn how to install solar powe and have the ability to create solar fields. 

200 out of the 400 nations in the Paris Peace Accord have signed on to regenerative agriculture to pull down carbon from the atmosphere because the richness of the soil is really a central source of being able to make progress. Many people believe it’s even more of a solution than clean energy because clean energy stops it from getting worse, but actually, regenerative agriculture pulls it down from the atmosphere.

3. Supportive housing = recognizing that humans need support from different communities 

A common way we deal with homelessness today is to lump everyone in one type of housing, regardless of their individual needs. However, there are at least 10 different types of homeless communities that are distinct with different identities that could be created. This type of efficient grouping with greater affinity will optimize the benefit by being able to specialize in the specific needs of each community. One of the key places that need to change is that there is something called Permanent Supportive Housing and which is the national program that is funded that goes to the state and then to local communities throughout the country.

Some examples of specific communities: 

  • Single women
  • Families
  • People who’ve come out of prisons
  • People who have addiction problems
  • High-functioning people who recently became homeless
  • Low-functioning people who need help 
  • Unemployed people
  • Teenagers/runaway children
  • Veterans

When we identify specific communities, we can build housing that goes beyond bricks and walls and get them the help they need. For example, for those with addiction, we could have psychiatrists who specialize in addiction helping them out on-site. 

When it comes to veterans, some of them might be in dire need of counseling. When we place people in similar situations together, they can relate to each other and feel safe in their community. Then the counseling that goes along with that component also addresses the specific needs of the communities.

People need empathy, they need to tell their story, they need guidance, and they need to have someone they consider an older sibling that’s there really rooting for their next step, whatever it is.

For approximately 15-20% of the cost of the construction of the facilities, we can have new creativity, alternative mental health, alternative housing, food development, and training. Each program represents a community that will be more cost-effective because we can target the population so much more specifically what the needs are. 

Some communities won’t require any security, so we’ll be saving money on duplicate services or covering everything for every single community that we have. It will take a combination of government change, philanthropic involvement, private organizations, individuals, and a different view of how we as a society view our relationship with our fellow human beings that are in the streets. 

We need to speed up the bureaucratic slowdowns and have a special fast track in every part of the development. Whether it’s environmental, plumbing, electric, all of those need to have a fast track where they’re doubly as fast or maybe triple as fast where there are fast track approvals that are gonna again require cooperation within all the county agencies.

Can I help? 

Yes! We’re so glad you asked. 

If you’re reading this and are in political power or the media, we hope that you will spread the word that the CEOs throughout California and The Global Bridge Foundation are trying to sponsor this solution to homelessness because it’s utterly viable. There are so many manufacturers that are ready to go, the laws need to be changed, and as mentioned it needs to be mandated. 

If you’re a citizen or resident who believes in what we’ve just shared, we ask you to spread the word. 

Please share this article, invite others to listen to Episode 72 of The Missing Conversation, and if possible, send it out to those in power in your town, city, or county. 

Our goal is to share the utter hope that’s there for our homeless brothers and sisters to actually not only be given houses and communities for the rest of their lives or some interim housing, but also for it to actually save cost for the government in the long term. It’s utterly mind-blowing to see that we can save money in the long term and we can spend approximately one-eighth to one-tenth of the cost to create the infrastructure.

Thank you for reading, and we are grateful for your support in making this solution a reality. 

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