Trump’s tax policies will exacerbate US homeless crisis: Economist

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The tax policies of US President Donald Trump’s administration will accelerate the homeless crisis in the United States, says an economist in California, amid a new report that shows America’s homeless population increased this year for the first time since 2010.

“Their [Trump administration] tax policies are going to drive up the cost of homes even more now,” said Jack Rasmus is a professor of economics at St Marys College and Santa Clara University, both in the state of California.

“As they pass this big tax giveaway for the rich, they’re going to go after social programs” and leave people with less access to affordable housing,” Rasmus told Press TV in a phone interview on Wednesday.

“They’re going to exacerbate it; they’re going to make it worse; just about everything Trump does makes it worse for working-class and homeless people and that’s going to continue,” he added.

The number of homeless people in the United States has increased for the first time since 2010, driven by a surge in the number of people living on the streets in Los Angeles, California, and other West Coast cities, according to a new government study.

Nearly 554,000 people were homeless across America during a one-night count in January of this year, a nearly 1 percent increase from 2016, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development said in a report released Wednesday.

Of that total, 193,000 people were unsheltered, meaning they had no access to nightly shelter and instead were staying in the streets, tents, vehicles and other places considered uninhabitable.

US government investment in affordable housing has lagged since it was slashed during the administration of former President Ronald Reagan, and today most people on the verge of homelessness do not receive rental assistance from the government.

Indeed, the government spends twice as much on a housing tax break for the wealthiest Americans, and the tax reforms under review by Congress would deal a further blow to affordable-housing funding if enacted.

Last week, the US Senate in Congress approved a sweeping tax overhaul that will offer huge tax cuts for US corporations and the wealthiest Americans and add trillions of dollars to the budget deficit.

The Senate version of the bill and one passed earlier this month by the House of Representatives must now be reconciled into a single bill and then go to the White House, where Trump was expected to sign it into law before the end of the year.

The broad-based US tax cuts proposed by the Trump administration in September would mostly benefit the very wealthy while adding $2.4 trillion to the budget deficit over 10 years, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center.

A man lays passed out beside a garbage can on the street on November 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (AFP photo)
A man lays passed out beside a garbage can on the street on November 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (AFP photo)

The number of homeless people in the United States has increased for the first time since 2010, driven by a surge in the number of people living on the streets in Los Angeles, California, and other West Coast cities, according to a new government study.

Nearly 554,000 people were homeless across America during a one-night count in January of this year, a nearly 1 percent increase from 2016, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development said in a report released Wednesday.

Of that total, 193,000 people were unsheltered, meaning they had no access to nightly shelter and instead were staying in the streets, tents, vehicles and other places considered uninhabitable.

Increases are higher in several West Coast cities, where the explosion in homelessness has prompted at least 10 city and county governments to declare states of emergency since 2015.

Los Angeles and its surrounding suburbs saw their total homeless count top 55,000 people this year, the report found, an increase of more than 13,000 from 2016.

Four out of every five homeless individuals there are considered unsheltered, leaving tens of thousands of people with no place to sleep other than the streets or parks.

While the overall homeless population in the states of California, Oregon and Washington grew by 14 percent over the past two years, the part of that population considered unsheltered climbed 23 percent to 108,000.

Homeless advocates and local officials say, ironically, that the region’s booming economy is the main culprit for the surge in homelessness.

“A vibrant state economy hasn’t translated into a quality of life improvement for a lot of Californians,” said Sara Kimberlin, a senior analyst at the California Budget and Policy Center.

Rents have soared beyond affordability for many low-wage workers who until just a few years ago could typically find a place to stay.

Now, even a temporary setback can be enough to leave lower-wage workers out on the streets.

Observers say that the federal government’s response to homelessness is lackluster. Government investment in low-income homes has lagged since it was slashed during the administration of former President Ronald Reagan.

A lack of affordable housing, combined with falling wages at the lower end of the US pay scale, has been cited by analysts as a cause for homelessness in the US.

SOURCEPress TV
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