tv Washington Journal Nan Roman CSPAN August 20, 2019 2:24pm-3:01pm EDT
we need a bold and comprehensive response at the federal, state, and local level to address the homelessness crisis. i've introduced this bill, the ending homelessness act legislation that would provide over $13 billion in funding to ensure that every person experiencing homelessness in america as a place to call home. the committee passed this legislation early this year. i'm committed to do everything i can to get this bill passed into law. the county and city are working hard to combat the housing crisis. thisreminder you can find on c-span.org and listen with our free c-span radio app. what doe back from --
you all do? -- we're back with nan roman from the national alliance to end homelessness. what do you do? guest: we look at data and evidence to figure out the solutions to what homelessness are, and we work with congress and the administration to get good policy support, and we work with communities to implement those solutions. host: where do you get your funding? guest: the organization started in the early 80's when homelessness first started to emerge in the country. guest: thd in the early 80's when homelessness first started to emerge in the country. it is a bipartisan, nonpartisan organization, and we get our funding from foundations, corporations, individuals, and contracts for technical assistance. we have conferences also. host: what exactly is the current state of homelessness in the united states? is it getting better? is it getting worse?
peoplethere is a 550,000 -- there is a 550,000 people homeless every night in the united states. we first7, when started collecting data across the board on homelessness, homelessness has gone down. this is despite the fact that things that cause homelessness, which we will talk about, have worsened, and it has to do that we are investing more in solving it and communities are doing a better job. in the past two years, it has been pretty much flat, and we expect it will go up this year when we get the data in from 2019 counts. host: to make sure we are on the same page, define homelessness. guest: homelessness is a situation in which people either are living unsheltered, so they don't have a shelter bed at night, or living in a shelter or
transitional housing or some kind of program. host: what age groups are we talking about? are most of the homeless of a certain age group? how many children? 550t: we are talking about thousand people, the majority of them are individual adults -- 550,000 people, the majority of them are adults. 40% live in families or are people living in families. has: president trump something to say about this earlier in the year. listen to what president trump had to say about this earlier. pres. trump: -- >> you come to osaka or tokyo and the cities are clean, no graffiti, no one going the bathroom on the streets. very different from our city. pres. trump: isn't it nice? it's very sad.
>> why is that? pres. trump: it's a phenomenon that started two years ago. it is disgraceful. i'm looking at it very seriously and we are doing other things you probably noticed some of the important things we are doing now, but we are looking at it very seriously, because you can't have police officers getting sick just by walking the beat. they are getting very sick. people are getting sick. people living there are living in hell, too. some of them have mental problems where they don't even know they are living that way, perhaps they like living that way. they can't to do that. we cannot ruin our cities. host: what is your reaction to what president trump had to say? guest: i appreciate he is expressing his concern about homelessness and recognizing the seriousness of it. it definitely is not a problem that emerged two years ago, it emerged in the early 80's.
prior to the early 80's, we did not have widespread homelessness in the country. about 30% of homeless people, overall, are unsheltered, meaning they are living in places not meant for human habitation. it is not by choice. it is because either they are not shelter beds -- there are not shelter beds where the beds --e so many areas of barriers to area of entry that people can't get into them. also said the government is not equipped to deal with homelessness, the federal government. actually, the federal government has been doing a great job dealing with homelessness. that is one of the reasons numbers have gone down over the past 10 to 11 years. even though the drivers, the causes of homelessness, have gotten worse. host: if you want to join this conversation, we will open up regional lines today. if you are in the eastern or
central time zone, we want to hear from you at (202) 748-8000. oryou are in the mountain pacific time zones, we want to hear from you at (202) 748-8001. keep in mind, we are always reading on social media, twitter, and on facebook. nan, is homelessness a problem in every state? is it a problem in certain regions? what is the geographical breakdown of homelessness in the united states? guest: homelessness is a problem everywhere, and urban, suburban, and rural areas. it is more of a problem, more people are homeless in urban areas. it plays out differently in these different areas. at the moment, the problem is much more serious on the coast. the states with the highest rates of homelessness are new york, florida, texas, and the states on the west coast.
it has a geographic dimension to it. host: i want to get to this before i forget you said it. you targeted the 1980's as being the era at which homelessness exploded. what changed in the 1980's that caused this problem? guest: the big thing that changed was the equation around housing affordability. housing affordability is the driver of homelessness. people are homeless because they can't afford housing, people with disabilities are more likely to be poor at a disadvantage when they compete for scarce resources. that is why a lot of disabled people are homeless. an adequate we had supply of housing, so we did not have widespread homelessness emerge until the 80's. the reason we lost housing, there was many reasons, but there was a big reduction in federal spending on affordable destroyedrban renewal
or tore down a lot of affordable housing, replacing it with housing, and the conversion of multifamily housing, rental apartments, into condominiums. prior to the 80's, multifamily housing apartments, except for new york city, was pretty much all rental. aw, there's a great deal multifamily housing owned by people. it was changing the housing equation. oft: the largest number homelessness is on the coast, and the large number of homeless are in new york city, los angeles, seattle. we have some of the nose -- some of those numbers. is homelessness just an urban problem or is it a problem in rural areas as well? guest: it is definitely a problem in those areas as well. when you say housing affordability or the equation
has two pieces to it. one, people portion comes. people don't make enough money -- people's incomes. people don't make enough money. in rural areas, a lot of people are challenged in terms of their income. it plays out differently in rural areas, because there's not as much infrastructure to help homeless people, not as many shelters. so, you see more people living in places, may be campers or barns, or doubling up with other people. it plays out differently, but it is still there. host: let's let some of our viewers join the conversation. gilbert is calling from birmingham, alabama. gilbert, good morning. caller: thank you for c-span and for your guest. there is an old cliche that you have to walk a mile in a man's shoes to understand him. i've been homeless in america. i was displaced in 2001 when the storm came through birmingham.
let me tell you, when we think about all of the natural disasters that happen in this country, a lot of people become displaced and homeless because of it. as god would have it, ironically, when the financial crisis happened, houses were so cheap in birmingham that i was able to pay cash for a house with my income tax. that is the way it is. what i'm saying is that, until we realize that every natural disaster puts people into homelessness more than any other -- and homeless veterans we have out here. who cries for the homeless? the previous show you are talking about the displaced immigrant workers. who is crying out for the homeless community? guest: first, in terms of congress, we do have a lot of support in congress, actually, for homelessness. there are a number of bills introduced this year to support
homeless people, and i think there are people who care. ofcifically, also, in terms what the color set about natural disasters. it is very much on my mind this morning, driving in, hearing about what is going on in new orleans. thenational alliance -- national alliance to end homelessness and i did work after katrina to get federal support for housing and people who had been homeless before the storm into or made homeless during the storm. sinks today and worry for what may happen there if things are as bad as they could be. we will be praying for people in new orleans to not become homeless as a result of this. peoplehat percentage of who are homeless are homeless because of natural disasters? any idea? let's talk about other groups as well. what about veterans?
are there any significant portions of veterans that are homeless? guest: in terms of natural disasters, i don't know. i don't know a number, but i don't believe it is a huge driver, in terms of the overall homeless numbers. obviously, when something happens, there are a lot of homeless people for a short period of time, but it doesn't tend to be the people who are homeless and the longer term. in terms of veterans, yes. there are 550,000 people per night homeless. it used to be that 70 or 80,000 of those were veterans. but, there has been a big investment from congress in ending veteran homelessness, and significant resources have been poured into it. that number has been cut by more than half. people, about 38,000 veterans, who are homeless. i think it is well within our ability to end homelessness for
veterans altogether. host: let's talk to rosetta calling from new york. rosetta, good morning. caller: good morning. i'm calling because i want to know, since you are the ceo and president, what are you exactly doing about the homeless problem with the people from the time you see them on the street to a place where they can be sheltered? an apartment or something like that. guest: national alliance to end homelessness is an advocacy and education. we do not deliver any direct assistance ourselves. we are trying to get the resources to support the largely nonprofit organizations, pretty much all assistance to homeless people is delivered by nonprofit organizations. we are trying to make sure they
are resourced well enough that they can do their job and get people back into housing as quick as possible. also, they understand what is working better to do that, what is more effective. we don't have enough money. 30% of people are -- you are homeless are unsheltered. we are not helping everyone, and we can't waste a penny. the federalch does government spend on homelessness every year? is that a major part of the budget? guest: it is not a major part of the budget, no. i wish. i don't wish, because i don't which we had to spend anything, but it is about $6 billion per year spent on targeted homelessness assistance. there is also money spent on programs that are for poor that isr health care not specifically targeted to homeless people. host: hugo is calling from
california. good morning. caller: the reason i'm calling is that, since we have been talking about homelessness, especially in the west, since 2007, nobody has looked at the role of wall street in homelessness. black rock, in 2011, when obama , the reasonroblems why there were problems was some wanted wall street to come up and by all of the homes in the west that were foreclosed. obama refused. obama wanted to handle it the way bush handled the debacle in the 80's, where, instead of taking people from their homes,
they are handed those homes and letting people stay in their homes, and spend what they could. obama inherited that from poppa bush. handled the situation, [indiscernible] thaty up all of the homes were foreclosed from the banks. does, theylackrock hold more than 5 million homes in arizona, new mexico, and california. what they did was they split those homes in 2015 -- 2050 sections. guest: housing affordability is the driver around homelessness. when the recession happened in 2008, actually, we had expected to see a big uptick in
homelessness as a result of that. housing, at, rental the beginning of the recession, there was an adequate supply in wasn't as much of a shortage. we didn't see a lot of entries into homelessness. then, congress ended up making a significant commitment to preventing people from becoming homeless during the recession in the homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing act. it helped a lot of people avoid homelessness. but, the caller is correct in pointing out that affordable housing is a big driver in homelessness. there are lots of different reasons why we have a shortage of that. host: one of the things we haven't talked about is whether mental illness has a part to play in homelessness. or, how much of a part does it play in homelessness? guest: homeless people have more mental illness than the general
population. 26% of homeless people in shelters having serious mental illness, and 35% of them have substance abuse disorder. whether always clear the mental illness and substance abuse are the cause of homelessness, or the result of them being homeless. depressioness causes . it's not a good situation. people self medicate with substances to deal with it. so, there is a cause and effect both with those. host: let's talk to judith calling from clayton, delaware. judith, good morning. caller: good morning. thank you for being there. i appreciate you guys. i have been homeless by choice, and i've worked with a lot of homeless people in the mental health field.
evense to be homeless, though i was making good money, because i wanted make sure -- wanted to make sure my kids were provided for first. i lived in my car for a little while, at the v.a. for a little while, and i've been homeless in southern california and in delaware. southern california, i found, one of the biggest problems is that it is hard to be homeless if you don't have some kind of a problem. you are down on your luck and kind of hard, they really don't look at you as much as if you have an abuse problem, domestic violence problem, or a mental health problem. one of the worst things southern california ever did, or california period, was disband the state mental health system and decide people needed to be in the community, because
there's a lot of people that would be much more -- that would be well taken care of in the state system, and i don't think they did them any favors. in terms of people with mental illness and homelessness, most of the deinstitutionalization of the countries took place prior to the emergence of homelessness. one of the reasons so many people who are homeless or mentally ill is that they are not adequate treatment -- there are not adequate treatment services for people. that community treatment that was supposed to be available after deinstitutionalization in many places never emerged. i will say, about the colors point, of people with higher -- withr's point, of people higher disabilities getting more attention from the homeless system, that is true.
there are not enough resources in the homeless system to help everybody, as witnessed by the fact that 30% of people who are homeless are unsheltered. increasingly, at the local levels, the homeless organizations are coordinating more, and are prioritizing the people with the highest needs because people who are ill, with substance abuse, mental illness, people with young children shouldn't be living outside. no one should be living outside, but if you don't have enough resources, it makes sense to prioritize the people with the highest needs. there are many people who need housing that are not getting help through the homeless system. that is true. not for lack of want to help them, but they don't have the resources. host: what is the racial breakdown of homelessness in the united states? guest: african-americans are very overrepresented in the homeless population. they are 13% of the u.s. percent, and 40% of homeless people are african-american.
hispanics have been underrepresented in the homeless population, but that has recently changed. u.s.are 18% of the population, and 20% of the homeless population. whites are underrepresented, asian a mute -- asian americans are underrepresented. because the feeder systems into homelessness, the ,easons people become homeless also have racial disparities who disproportionately affect african americans. criminalvolved in the justice system, disproportionately african-american. the foster care system, the rates of poverty, health care , so the discrimination
and racial inequity in our inger systems is resulting racial disproportionality in the homeless system. we are trying hard to make sure the homeless system itself is not having a disparate impact on people. host: let's talk to jack was calling from tennessee. good morning. caller: good morning. two points i think are flaws with the system. fond ofe cities are boasting -- like chattanooga, 20 years ago, received a grant that said we would end homelessness once and for all. what happened? a lot of neighboring cities encouraged their homeless people to come to chattanooga, so our population went up. the burden we had went up because of our hubris. number two, how do you count the homeless? what are the real standards?
we empower the university here and others to count them, and they came up with about 4000 homeless because they counted college students that were no longer living at home with their parents as homeless. people that shared apartments were homeless if their name wasn't on the lease. the county fair went from over 4000 -- i don't know who made them rein it in, but to less than 200. i think they were angling for grants. the more people they counted, the bigger the grant pots would be. it was scandalous. host: your response? guest: two points. one, ending homelessness -- i come from an organization, national alliance to end homelessness, so we believe homelessness can be ended, and there are communities that have ended it for certain subpopulations. in terms of the count, there are
decent data sources we have. one, the federal government data, that if any community receives federal funding for homelessness, which every community does, that they have an administrative data system and collect information about the people that receive services. we have a lot of data about that , with what people's characteristics are and what kind of services they use. secondly, they also require every other january, and most communities do it every year, communities across the country do a point in time count, where they count everybody in a homeless bed, shelter, transitional housing, and they have a system for counting unsheltered people. so, we have those counts. they are consistent. they are not perfect, but they are consistent over time. there has been an argument, policy argument about the definition of homelessness and
whether double that people should be counted as homeless. it sounds like that is what is going on in chattanooga, where some people are using a broader it's aion where definition used by the department of education. host: one of our viewers wants to know the effect of gentrification on homelessness. do we see more people becoming homeless because of the gentrification of our urban areas? guest: gentrification results in the loss of affordable housing in areas, resulting in homelessness. host: let's go to gloria calling from oklahoma. gloria, good morning. caller: good morning. thank you for accepting my call. host: go ahead, gloria. wanted to sayi that i think the baby boomers and white people are ignored in
the homeless. i was one that was discriminated against, and pushed out of the job market. media and, i think, the count, like the tennessee person that called in, i think that's count is ignored. i live in a small town in oklahoma, and i don't think they count the urban areas. i think they count the large cities, and ignore the small cities. town, that housing is really very bad, destructive. the housing is -- we have a lot and ieless in the city,
just wanted to make that point, that i think the white people are ignored, that there are a lot of white people that are homeless and are not counted. host: how do we do the count? is everyone being counted? guest: everyone is being counted. that's probably in rural areas and smaller towns that have less infrastructure, like fewer shelters and so forth, that the count might be less accurate, but i think everybody is being counted. african-american. host: we can get one more call in before we run out of time. laurie is calling from north hollywood, california. caller: thank you for letting me talk to you. i want to say i was in california, los angeles, and we
have very much population of homeless people, especially children. our governor was saying he was going to give more than $1 million to illegal aliens for health insurance, instead of helping out children who are homeless. i want to know, what is going on in here? this is not fair. this is not right. guest: there are always priorities, and i can't speak for the priorities of the but her of california, also has been leading. when he was mayor of san francisco, he prioritized homelessness. since he has been governor, he has been trying to do something about it. i appreciate that. host: we would like to thank nan roman, the president and ceo of national alliance to end homelessness
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