Many Aspects of the Housing Crisis – Chico Enterprise-Record

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Jesica Giannola (letters of September 4) correctly points out that the costs of housing and homelessness are linked, but I believe that she does not understand that there are two overlapping but distinct aspects in the crisis of affordability of housing.

The first concerns the plight of young working families who wish to be part of the property economy, but find themselves in competition with buyers from all over the world. California real estate has become one of the most popular commodities and therefore is very attractive to investors residing in stagnant economies elsewhere. Only appropriate changes in public policies can change this unfortunate and unsustainable situation.

The second is that there is no level of affordability that will make housing available to people who have no legitimate income or recent work history, and whose employability, even in an economy in a labor shortage, is questionable. Often, but not always, what is incompatible with self-sufficiency is the current or past use of intoxicating substances.

During my 40 years as a vocational rehabilitation professional, I have been able to help many people with disabilities (including psychiatric) to find paid employment in protected, supported or fully integrated environments. One thing I couldn’t do was create or find workplaces that would accept people with chronic poisoning. If a person could wait for their first drink or puff until five in the evening, we might have stood a chance. But if they needed that first dose to start their day, our prognosis for success was poor.

– Carl Ochsner, Chico

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