Saturday, May 18, 2019

Nashville's homeless population on the decline.

by Rod Williams 5-17-2019 - I don't know why and those serving the homeless community do not speculate as to why, but Nashville's homeless population is on the decline and this is good news. Nationwide it is estimated that 0.17% of the population is homeless. This however, is an improvement over previous years except for the last two years which showed a minuscule uptick. Homelessness is down nationwide from 2007. It has been decreasing for about ten years but is now leveling out.  The fact that we have the lowest unemployment rate in fifty years no doubt contributes to less homelessness nationwide but state polices raising the minimum wage probably counteract the positive impact of the improved economy.

While homelessness is down in Nashville and much of the nation, there are places were it is drastically up and of chronic proportions. California which has the highest poverty rate in the nation
 has a severe homeless problem, particularly in the bay area. You have probably seen the videos or news reports showing block after block of sidewalks turned into tent camping sites.  Human excrement, rampant drug use, and the crowding of people into close quarters in unsanitary conditions leads to increased health risk.  A contributing factor to the California homeless crisis is that California destroyed their housing market through over regulation. It is estimated that local fees on on home construction adds an additional 6% to 18% to the cost of a home. The recently enacted California rule mandating solar panels on nearly all new home construction adds about $10,000 to the cost of a home (link). A statewide minimum wage of $12 an hour, the status of California as a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants and various other liberal policies no doubt contributes to the growth of homelessness in the state.

One thing that I would suggest contributes to a decline in homelessness is that Nashville has not allowed the development of large homeless camps.  If you recall, early in the administration of Megan Barry, the Fort Negley site had developed into a large homeless encampment. The city gave people amble time to move and adequate warning then moved in and forcibly removed them. There has also been other sites that were turning into homeless communities that the city has cleaned up.  If we did not prevent them from doing so,  I don't doubt that Centennial Park or Riverfront Park would be a vast homeless encampment.

Whatever the combination of factors that has let to a decrease in homeless, we are doing something right. To make sure we continue on the right tract, we need to ensure the nation continues on a path of economic growth and low unemployment and Nashville needs to look at what San Fransisco is doing and not do it.

The above was modified to reflect more accurate data  resulting from additional research on 5-19-2019. Rod Williams

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