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Paul Tepper: Welfare Checks Can’t Cover Rent for Downtown’s Homeless

Our friend Paul Tepper just published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Business Journal about welfare, housing and homelessness. While many Europeans assume there simply is not welfare state left in the US, there is indeed very little. "General Relief" exist on the local level in some states and is residual, punitive and mean.

Missing Picture: Skid Row Los Angeles
Skid Row Los Angeles (copyright Happy Mac)

It will certainly not cover your housing expenses nowadays. But read for yourself. Below the article you will find a link to the print version of the text (as for today it does not require registration, that may change).

Paul Tepper: "Welfare Checks Can't Cover Rent for Downtown's Homeless", published July 23rd 2007

Angelenos often ask why are there are so many homeless people throughout Los Angeles County. They ask why these men and women don’t use their welfare checks to rent a room and get off the street.

Let me provide one very simple answer. The least expensive room for rent in the city costs somewhere around $350 a month. General Relief, the L.A. County-funded welfare program of last resort for indigent men and women, provides destitute adults with $221 a month. Needless to say, there is virtually no housing available for $221 a month.

Think about what you are paying for your home or apartment and then consider that the humblest hotels on Skid Row charge $350 a month for a room with no toilet or cooking facilities. These $350-a-month rooms are few and far between. Numerous downtown hotels marketed to poor people charge far more. Many Skid Row hotels ask for $600 or more for a month’s lodging. Make a few calls in your neighborhood and ask about rents.  Make a few calls in any neighborhood.

A $221 General Relief check minus $350 in rent for the most meager housing in the city equals homelessness. Can it be any plainer than that?