During a town hall event Thursday, Rep. Ilhan Omar was asked if she would support a home guarantee and make a commitment to “building millions of social housing units.”
Ilhan Omar replied that when she first came to America she was shocked to see homeless people. “It is a moral stain on our country that we have half-a-million or more people facing homelessness,” Omar said. She added, “In a few weeks, we are going to introduce our Homes For All legislation, which will, hopefully, guarantee a home for everyone by investing federal dollars in the creation of millions of homes.”
Omar went on to explain that the Squad would be rolling out a coordinated effort regarding Homes for All: “We collectively in the progressive caucus, mainly the Squad…are going to be rolling out a Homes for All package, each one of us, that will deal with many of the systematic problems that we have in our housing.”
I guess it was inevitable that the party of free college and free health care would get around to promising free homes for all. Obviously, there aren’t a lot of details here yet but Omar says there are half a million homeless people in the US, which is in line with recent government reports that found about that many people were homeless on a given night in 2017:
On a single night in 2017, 553,742 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. For every 10,000 people in the country, 17 were experiencing homelessness. Approximately twothirds (65%) were staying in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs, and about onethird (35%) were in unsheltered locations.
The number of homeless in a given year is much higher because most people are only homeless temporarily. They either find a place to live (with friends or family) or they find a new job, etc. The long term homeless who you see living on the street in tents are a different population, a majority of whom have mental problems or drug problems that prevent them from reintegrating into society. So if Omar’s plan is to provide free homes to the people she saw on the streets then she’s necessarily going to be giving those homes to a lot of people who have other serious problems that go beyond a lack of affordable housing.
I’m also curious about the cost of all of this. In 2016, LA residents passed proposition HHH which raised $1.2 billion to create just 10,000 new housing units for the homeless. But 2 1/2 years later the plan is looking like a debacle:
Today the ten-year goal to build 10,000 units of homeless housing is in serious jeopardy, beset by delays, losses in federal tax credit funding, and skyrocketing construction costs. Not a single HHH unit was completed by the end of 2018…
The city has committed $311,672,673 of the $1.2 billion voter-approved bond money to 33 development projects to build a total of 2,133 units of affordable housing, including 1,643 with supportive services for the chronically homeless. It has broken ground on eight projects and approved construction loans for five more, which are slated to launch within a month.
But even if all goes according to plan, no more than 239 of the affordable units are expected to be completed by the end of this year, including 164 for permanent supportive housing.
Maybe a nationwide approach will be more successful, but ultimately, no matter who provides the money, this is going to boil down to city bureaucracies that have to actually make these projects happen. Anyone who thinks that is going to go smoothly, efficiently, or cheaply, hasn’t been paying attention.
This clip courtesy of the Washington Examiner: