By Joe Buscaino| Special to CalMatters
Fixing the housing crisis should not be a partisan issue. Housing is an American issue and is at the core of what it means to live the American Dream.
Voters should insist that whoever wins in November, whether it’s President Trump or one of his Democratic challengers, tackle this issue.
As president of the National League of Cities, I created a bipartisan task force of local leaders from across the country to shine a light on the key issues impacting our nation’s cities, towns and villages.
Our collective discussion helped create the league of cities’ Leading Together 2020 Cities Agenda. As we drafted that agenda, one thing was clear: Solving our nation’s housing crisis and the growing number of men, women, and children experiencing homelessness is the issue that we who represent cities must solve. The quality of life for all of us has diminished because the rent is just too damn high.
For me, this issue is personal. During my 15 years in the Los Angeles Police Department, I saw the daily impact and the long-term toll that a lack of affordable, accessible housing can have on families.
Now as a member of the L.A. city council, I among the champions of increased funding to move people experiencing homelessness from tents into housing. Gov. Gavin Newsom also focuses on the emergency that is homelessness.
We need the same urgency we’re showing in Los Angeles and California in the White House.
As a country that values hard work, we must ensure every person who puts in a 40-hour work week can afford housing. That’s not the case now.
With housing costs continuing to climb in diverse communities across the country, millions of individuals and families are left without enough money for medicine, transportation, and other basic needs.
The result: cities and service providers working at the intersection of mental health, substance use disorder and homelessness are overwhelmed. Effective local responses require wide-ranging partnerships, including at the federal level.
I will work with this White House and any future administration to ensure enough federal funding is in place to get people off the streets and into homes.
Homelessness can be prevented by providing wraparound services, emergency assistance and crisis interventions for at-risk individuals and families before they face a crisis.
Housing affordability can be addressed by advancing new policies to stabilize and stem the loss of public and affordable housing while authorizing new funding for programs that advance housing for all. If we put our differences aside, we can fix the housing and homelessness crisis.
Much like the way Angelenos come together in the aftermath of an earthquake or a wildfire, there is no reason we can’t take that attitude and sense of collaboration to deploy solutions to affordable housing and homelessness – and challenge those vying for the highest office in the country to do the same.
Our nation is strongest when all levels of government are leading together – to protect and advance the priorities of all citizens. I am rolling up my sleeves to put forward actionable solutions for the benefit of our community. We need the same level of urgency from the presidential candidates.
All across the United States we want an end our housing and homelessness crisis. I will be doing my part and am calling on our presidential candidates to tell voters what their plan is to make sure every person has a place to call home. And whoever is elected in November must commit himself or herself to fulfilling a pledge to provide housing for all.
Joe Buscaino is a Los Angeles city councilmember, and president of National League of Cities, Councilmember.Buscaino@lacity.org. He wrote this commentary for CalMatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s Capitol works and why it matters.
The author wrote this for CalMatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s Capitol works and why it matters.
Header Photo: A man and woman rest and eat on a grassy patch surrounded by their belongings in Eureka on Aug. 21, 2019. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters.)