A man looks through a bag of groceries next to his tent in the city.

Study traces ‘causes and consequences’ of California homelessness — and challenges myths

Researchers surveyed nearly 3,200 people experiencing homelessness across eight counties in the state, using their answers to create representative statewide estimates. They also conducted in-depth interviews with 365 of those participants.

The study found that nearly half (47%) of all unhoused adults in the state are 50 or older, with Black and Native American residents “dramatically overrepresented.” Notably, 41% of that share became homeless for the first time at 50 or older.

For Times columnist Anita Chabria, the report demonstrates that California’s income inequality has reached a point where “if you are older and unable to work, homelessness is a real threat throughout the Golden State.”

“As much as we want to see the average homeless person as a drug tourist dropping into too-progressive cities for the good fentanyl and lax laws … or someone whose mental illness makes it impossible for them to live unaided, the truth is simpler — and much more devastating,” she wrote this week. “As Californians age, they are being priced out of housing.”

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