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New initiatives provide tax credits and tiny houses to the homeless

By Raymond Dai Apr. 28, 2021

Ivan Zhu Art

As the California homeless crisis continues to grow amid the coronavirus pandemic, the state has recently implemented several initiatives to aid homeless individuals. Two such programs include providing tax credits for employees who hire homeless workers and assisting nonprofit organizations to build small home villages in Los Angeles.

On Feb. 12, 2020, State Senator María Elena Durazo introduced Senate Bills 1333 and 424 to propose the creation of a tax credit that would encourage qualified employers to provide access to employment and careers for homeless individuals. Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis claims that expanding employment opportunities for the homeless would help lift them out of poverty by providing financial opportunities. The senator also wants to ensure long-term stability for homeless populations and hopes her legislation will enable them to find self-sustaining opportunities. State Senator Susan Rubio also voiced her support for the bill as a joint author.

Under Senate Bill 1333, employers with 500 employees or less that pay family-supporting wages or pay above the prevailing wage will qualify to receive a tax credit. Specifically, the tax credit will start at $2,500 for each homeless employee that works 500 hours during the year and up to $10,000 for 2,000 hours worked. However, the total tax credit would be capped at $30,000 per taxable year. Workers would qualify for this system if they lacked housing for 60 days after being hired or were receiving homeless support services.

In addition to the tax credit, nonprofit organizations in Santa Clara County directly built small home villages as a response to the homeless crisis. For example, Casitas de Esperanza, a group of 25 100-square-foot homes, intends to provide shelter for an average of 120 days as residents transition to more permanent housing in the future.

“I support these initiatives because they give homeless people the opportunity to earn money and to support themselves, rather than having to rely on government assistance. Though I support the efforts in combating homelessness, I fear that building small home villages is only a temporary solution. It does not work to solve the core reasons that homelessness is rising and may only prove to become an issue in the future, with lack of space or people never leaving these homes.” Junior Theodorus Ruiz said.

Casitas de Esperanza is primarily organized by Amigos de Guadalupe, which will deal with daily operations and manage the properties, and Project WeHope, which will provide upkeep for sanitation facilities. The structures themselves were built by previously homeless workers.

The tiny houses are only one step in the county’s five-year plan to combat homelessness. With a total of 1.4 million dollars in funding, Santa Clara County intends to double the amount of temporary shelters and house 20,000 people by 2025. It also plans to team up with corporations to create job and training opportunities, as well as develop greater access to mental health and substance abuse assistance.

According to San Jose Spotlight, the Santa Clara County and San Jose officials project that the homeless population could increase by an estimated 20,000 in the next five years.

According to US News, such efforts have been commended by many homeless activists. Furthermore, residents of similar tiny home villages in Los Angeles greatly appreciate the services that enhanced their quality of life.

According to San Jose Spotlight, the Santa Clara County and San Jose officials project that the homeless population could increase by an estimated 20,000 in the next five years. This prediction mirrors a statewide trend: with the homeless population in California amounting to over 150,000 people, Governor Gavin Newsom stated in a Mar. 9 State of the State address that he planned to commit $2 billion towards creating more homeless shelters and addressing mental health and substance abuse.

“Supporting the homeless is important to get them back on their feet, and these are efficient ways to contribute to that effort. Another crucial step in this process is knowing when to step back as a provider and let them stand by themselves again,” Sophomore Brodey Palmaffy said.

California is not the first state to implement these programs. According to the Arizona Republic, other states like Arizona have set aside federal funds to purchase homeless shelters. Therefore, many people hope that more cities and states will begin providing services to the unhoused and that the initiatives will help curb rising homelessness.

 

About the Contributors

Raymond Dai

Staff Writer


Raymond Dai is a sophomore at Leland High School and a Staff Writer for the Charger Account. He likes to play video games, play badminton and go out biking in his free time.

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