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Climate Change and It's Unseen Effects on Homeless


Climate Change and Its Unseen Effects on Homeless

Victoria Carroll

December 1, 2023

In the city of Los Angeles, both the ongoing housing crisis and climate change have become a great cause for concern. While inflation is becoming more prevalent, so is the growing rate of homelessness. The rise of homelessness means there is a considerable increase in waste, pollution, and toxins being produced. This increase contributes substantially to the climate crisis and perpetuates unsafe practices of maintaining our environment. 


A study done by UCLA Institute of the Environment and Suitability, Climate Change in the Los Angeles Region: , reported average temperatures over the region have increased by 4.3 degrees compared to temperatures recorded between 1981-2000. This means Los Angeles will experience temperatures of 95 degrees more often, nearly at a triple increase. Without access to a clean water supply, this can be life-threatening to the homeless population in L.A. Dehydration and strokes are only two on a long list of health concerns that come with rising temperatures. 


In extreme heat, fires can easily start and spread fast, without shelter raising the likelihood that the homeless could potentially lose their personal belongings or injure themselves. High temperatures can occur often and without accessibility to clean water, dehydration and heat strokes can be especially dangerous without a proper shelter or water supply. The homeless population is ultimately handed a double-edged sword. While they do not have access to a clean water supply, they also do not have access to shelter with restrooms, leaving the bodies of water we rely on for water, filthy and contaminated. 


Homelessness can produce a significant amount of pollution and waste. Encampments often leave behind excessive amounts of trash and drug paraphernalia, which destroys natural environments and ecosystems surrounding the city, such as rivers, lakes, forests, etc… Biohazardous materials can affect natural areas and pollute ecosystems. Garbage is especially dangerous for the consumption of wildlife in L.A, consuming trash could lead to widespread sickness or even the eventual extinction of certain species. 


While this is concerning and doubtful of the future, there have been actions to help homeless people. During COVID-19, Governor Newsom authorized $150 million to protect homeless Californias. This provided an abundance of shelter, including hotel rooms and trailers. By shifting focus from expanding an unaffordable housing market to creating more shelters and providing resources for the homeless, there can be an immense change seen in the environment. 


While this is concerning for the future, there have been actions made by the government to help reduce the homeless population.


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