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Homeless Heroes Need Affordable Housing

By Erica Madrid

On any given night there are more than 49,000 veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States. In 2013 the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) announced that there was over 15,000 homeless veterans in California alone. In Los Angeles County there was a reported 4,343 homeless veterans, the largest concentration in the country.

I am a Disabled American Veteran. I served my country for 9 years during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a Disabled American Veteran it pains me to see my brothers and sisters living on the streets, without food or shelter. These men and women gave up their lives for their country, for our freedom, all so they could end up homeless and alone on the streets.

In 2009 the Obama Administration set out a plan to end veteran homeless by 2015. In 2014 overall veteran homelessness was down 33% nationally. While in Los Angeles County veteran homelessness has risen 6% since 2013.

One of the main reasons veterans remain homeless in Los Angeles is not due to unavailable funding or lack of resources, it’s due to there being no affordable housing available.

Trying to find an affordable apartment in L.A. is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

The median rent amount for a one bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is $1830.00. According to Zumper’s National Rent Report the cheapest places to rent in LA was South LA, like Florence-Graham, where the one-bedroom median was just $850. But if you’re familiar with L.A. that might be one of the last places you would want to live even if you are homeless and living on the streets. In the area of Florence and Graham there were 241 reports of crime in just the past two months alone.

Until we can make housing affordable in Los Angeles County there will continue to be veterans facing homelessness. We need to push property owners to lower their rent amounts or make a higher percent of their new housing projects affordable for lower income veterans.

I urge you to contact your local property owners, or your city council, or even your senator and demand affordable housing for homeless veterans and for all of Los Angeles County.

Erica Madrid lives in Long Beach and is enrolled in the School of Social Work’s Master’s Program at USC.