In 2019, research done by the Public Policy Institute of California reported that over a third of Californians were living in or close to poverty.
In addition, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, at 15.4%, California manages to beat every other state in the country when it comes to poverty rates in residents. In the past couple of years, the percentage of poverty has fluctuated as a result of unemployment and mass layoffs, as well.
As impoverishment worsens, inevitably, so do homelessness and destitution. Although the Census Bureau hasn’t released numbers for Homelessness in 2021, rates ahead of the pandemic are still shocking. In a report done by the Office of Policy Development and Research, from 2018 to 2020, California’s homeless population increased by a whopping 24.3%.
Executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, Bob Erlenbusch, explained in an email that since it is difficult to precisely record the numbers of individuals facing homelessness, these data are an undercount.
In Gavin Newsom’s campaign for governor of California in 2018, he promises to seize the growing issue of homelessness and says he will “lead the effort to develop 3.5 million new housing units… by 2025.” Newsom sets his goal as a top priority, stating that the reason for this is those past governors didn’t pay much attention to the issue.
While the government is working to alleviate the matter of impoverishment and homelessness, individuals can also help by joining nonprofit organizations and volunteering at the multitude of fundraising events that are held each year.
A couple of these institutions, such as Oxfam International and Illumination Foundation, focus on assuaging global poverty and providing services for vulnerable individuals to end homelessness. Their impact has greatly improved the lives of many and more to come.
According to the Illumination Foundation, their work has allowed “for more than 1,000,000 nights of safe shelter to our most vulnerable homeless families and individuals.”
Because these organizations branch out into high schools around the country, students can actively participate in the alleviation of these problems by volunteering in service clubs, such as Oxfam Club and Illumination Foundation Club at Fountain Valley High School.
Not only do students get exposure to important social issues like these, but they also build relationships and receive service hours while making a difference.