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Working in unison to help the homeless

Julie Han, Opinion Editor

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Being homeless is not a stigma; it is a reality. In Downtown Los Angeles, for example. one might find streets lined with elegant hotels and apartment complexes, but then turn a corner to view streets bound with tents and witness the poverty-stricken population. There has been a 23 percent increase in the homeless population over the last year, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Service. Out of the 58,000 currently homeless population, 6,000 people are homeless youth.

Two factors contributing to the rising homeless population is the rising home prices and the government’s slow response to the issue. Over the last year, statistics from Los Angeles Newsletter, “Curbed Los Angeles, demonstrates an almost 5 percent increase in average prices of rent in Los Angeles City, while one’s income remains fixed. The rent rise acts as the cut-off for the lower class-class and as an attractive asset of affordability to the middle-class. The soar in household costs sends thousands of people packing for the streets, but the government has just started to expel its plans regarding this issue.

In an attempt to respond to the growing issue of homelessness, voters passed Measure H in March, which increased sales taxes by a quarter of a percent in order to raise $355 million over 10 years to provide rental subsidies for homeless people and mental services. With this measure, Los Angeles County hopes to end homelessness for 45,000 families and individuals within 5 years. Los Angeles County also aims to prevent 30,000 individuals and families from becoming homeless. Although Los Angeles has initiated their plan to reduce the homeless population,eliminating the conflict of homelessness cannot be done overnight.

The faculty and staff at Uni are working to improve the case of homelessness at our school. According to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a student is defined homeless if they currently or temporarily reside in a vehicle, garage, shelter, a motel or hotel, in the home of another family’s house, other places that are not designed to accommodate human sleep, or are in a transition housing program. Students and families, who fill out the Student Residency Questionnaire and indicate that they are in transition housing, they are eligible for resources such as school supplies, clothing assistance, tutoring, transportation assistance, hygiene kits, and assistance for a homeless teen parent. At Uni, these resources are facilitated by the homeless school site liaison, Tanya Mercado, who is also the Pupil Services and Attendance Counselor at Uni. The Student Residency Questionnaire can be found in the attendance office. So far, 2 percent of students that have been identified at Uni qualify for assistance.

We, as students, can also contribute to alleviating the problem of chronic homelessness by participating in service events. Many clubs on Uni’s campus, such as KIWIN’S Key Club and Connecting Horizons, provide opportunities to mitigate the rising issue. KIWIN’S actively participates in organizations like Hashtag Lunchbag, where volunteers can package boxed lunches which are then distributed by adults to homeless individuals, groups, or local shelters. Connecting Horizons focuses on discussing issues of homeless youth in Los Angeles. Mercado also encourages students to seek events that could be found online, such as participating in canned food drives and tutoring at shelters (the School on Wheels Program). Together, students at Uni can engage in building and improving real issues in their community.

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The student news site of University High in Los Angeles, California
Working in unison to help the homeless