Causes of Homelessness
The causes vary widely, but often homelessness and poverty are linked. Being poor can mean a person is one illness, one accident, or one paycheck away from living on the streets. Top contributors to homelessness also include:
- Lack of affordable housing
- Low wages
- Mental illness and the lack of needed services (Single adult individuals)
- Substance abuse and the lack of needed services (Single adult individuals)
The Growth of Homelessness
National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) cites three top factors that have fueled an increase in homelessness over the past 30 years.
- Housing has become more scarce for those with limited incomes;
- Earnings from employment and benefits have not kept pace with the cost of housing for people with limited incomes;
- Services that every family needs for support and stability have become harder for poor people to access and afford.
General Homelessness FAQs
The Thousand Oaks Police Department enforces laws where applicable; however, homelessness in itself is not a crime. In addition, recent court cases have made it more difficult to enforce laws traditionally used in homeless incidents such as living out of a vehicle and illegal camping. In addition, propositions recently approved by California voters have either decriminalized or minimized narcotics offenses. In many cases, where a person would have gone to jail in the past, they are either given a citation or there is simply no violation that exists anymore. As a community, we will not arrest our way out of this problem.
Long term solutions require the cooperation of all stakeholders following a comprehensive plan and the cooperation of citizens to not enable a homeless lifestyle by providing them with short term food and money.
* Lutheran Social Services
* Many Mansions
* Interface Children and Family Services
* Salvation Army
Permanent Supportive Housing and Emergency Shelter FAQs
Emergency shelter means any facility, the primary purpose of which is to provide a temporary shelter for the homeless in general or for specific populations of the homeless and which does not require occupants to sign leases or occupancy agreements. (Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - ESG Program)
Building on the success of both Project Roomkey and the first round of Homekey, Homekey Round 2 continues a statewide effort to sustain and rapidly expand housing for persons experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, and who are, thereby, inherently impacted by COVID-19 and other communicable diseases.
Administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), approximately $1.4 billion (FY 2021-22) in grant funding will be made available to local public entities, including cities, counties, or other local public entities, such as housing authorities or Tribal Entities within California.
Homekey is an opportunity for state, regional, and local public entities to develop a broad range of housing types, including but not limited to hotels, motels, hostels, single- family homes and multifamily apartments, adult residential facilities, and manufactured housing, and to convert commercial properties and other existing buildings to Permanent or Interim Housing for the Target Population. (Source: CA Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) - Homekey Program)
Permanent supportive housing and emergency shelter are a part of an effective homeless crisis response system. The number of persons experiencing homelessness in Thousand Oaks is growing. The City is currently hindered in its ability to effectively support our unhoused residents due to a lack of inventory of permanent supportive housing and absence of a year-round emergency shelter.
Addressing homelessness has been a top priority for City Council since 2018. In congruence with feedback received through the City’s statistically valid 2020 Community Attitudes Survey, in which six-in-ten respondents supported the City incentivizing under-performing hotels and motels to accept temporary housing vouchers (62%), creating a temporary homeless shelter in Thousand Oaks (62%), and providing permanent housing with supportive services for homeless in Thousand Oaks (59%). City Council reaffirmed their commitment to addressing homelessness. Specifically, the Council’s unanimously approved priorities for FY 2021-22 includes “identifying and advancing solutions for emergency shelter and permanent supportive housing.”
Moreover, the State of California has committed an unprecedented $1.45 billion to assist local entities with new permanent supportive housing and emergency shelter projects through the Homekey Program. (Source: CA Homekey Program)
In 2020, the Thousand Oaks Police Department Homeless Count identified 242 individuals experiencing homelessness in Thousand Oaks, 198 of have roots or ties to Thousand Oaks.
The TOPD Homeless Count is conducted at various times of day over multiple days, and leverages resources of local service organizations. It captures a more holistic count of our residents experiencing homelessness.
The federal government also mandates an annual “Point-in-Time" (PIT).count of the homeless. The PIT count captures a snapshot of the unsheltered homeless on a single night of the year, and excludes certain sub-demographics from its methodology. In 2020, The PIT more narrowly-focused count identified 152 homeless persons in Thousand Oaks.
The TOPD and PIT counts both indicate an upward trajectory over recent years. Moreover, recent data shows 36% of the City’s unhoused are experiencing homelessness for the first time.
According to U.S. Census data, approximately 26% renters in Thousand Oaks pay more than 50% of their income on housing costs (and 46.6% of renters are paying at least 35% of their income on housing costs). Another 13.% of homeowners pay 50% or more on housing costs in the City. These households are severely cost-burdened and vulnerable to becoming homeless. In other words, about 17% of Thousand Oaks renters and homeowners pay 50% or more on their housing costs. (Sources: HUD Portal, and CA Department of Finance)
Each of the projects will require some level of financial support from the City. It is still too early in the process and the cost estimates are not yet available. The City’s goal is to leverage and maximize non-City funds to the fullest extent possible to support the costs of developing an emergency shelter and permanent supportive housing units.
Staff will return to City Council with estimates before any ongoing financial commitments are made. Such commitments would also be contingent upon whether the project(s) succesfully obtain Homekey funding.
A study commissioned by the County of Ventura found that local governments in Ventura County are spending $37,000 - $57,000 per year on high utilizing homeless individuals per year. (Source: Homelessness in Ventura County Report)
Other studies conducted at the national level have found that leaving a person to remain chronically homeless costs taxpayers as much as $30,000 - $50,000 per year. (Source: U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness)
The State of California recently conducted a study, and according to the data submitted by California Continuums of Care, over a three year time span, very few people experienced homelessness in more than one Continuum of Care. 96% of persons experiencing homelessness accessed services within one continuum of care. Of the people who did access services in multiple jurisdictions, most did so in adjacent or neighboring CoCs, suggesting homelessness within California is not a problem of migration.