Keeping Vulnerable Californians Safe
As of December 2019, the list of the top five cities in the United States with the most
homelessness includes three cities in California . San Jose, San Diego, and Los Angeles
together have a homeless population of over 80,000, a number which has increased exponentially over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic . Thousands of Californians have already experienced a loss of housing as a direct result of the pandemic’s economic impact, and many more thousands are at a high risk of facing eviction at some point in 2021. It is expected that over 4 million people across the state will potentially face eviction at some point throughout 2021, particularly once the current eviction moratorium is lifted . The moratorium, set to expire this summer, has temporarily reduced the expected number of newly-homeless families, but this reduction is likely to be negated in the fall if the majority of people are still unable to return to work . This means that the need for transitional housing options is greater than ever, as newly-homeless families find themselves suddenly looking for somewhere to stay until they can get back on their feet.
A large problem with existing transitional housing options is that they are built to be
permanent structures. Permanent supportive housing is difficult to build and scale quickly, due to the time and funding required to build each unit. Permanent supportive housing structures can take multiple years to build, and tend to cost about $400,000 to $500,000 per unit; however, this can rise up to around $750,000 per unit if it is built in the Bay Area . Even if funds were not a factor and a plan to build permanent housing for each homeless individual in California could be established, the latency time for building said housing would mean that people would have to continue residing in unsafe situations for upwards of 3 years while these units were being built. There is therefore a clear need for cheaper housing options that require little setup or tear-down time. For example, houses that could be built anywhere in less than a day’s time and taken down again just as easily, depending on need, would ensure that more homeless individuals have a place to
sleep while they wait for more permanent options to be built.
Various government programs exist to help those of low-income find transitional
housing, such as the Transitional Housing Program (or THP), a program that aims to help
California’s younger homeless population by providing safe and affordable housing for young adults aged 18-25 who are at a high risk of experiencing homelessness . The program provides $8 million in grants to various counties across California for the purpose of identifying existing housing services, providing those who were formerly in the foster care or probation system with prioritized spots for housing, and performing outreach to help identify and serve those with the most need . The grant money can also be used to help improve links to community resources in the child welfare system, so that children can seek help before they age out of the government systems .
Although organizations such as the THP are helping many people find the support they
need during such a vulnerable time, many of these programs have flaws in their application and outreach systems which make it difficult for people to obtain places within them. Most programs have a thorough application process requiring information such as proof of income and government identification, which many homeless and low-income people do not have. For example, the Oakland Housing Authority requires that applicants present verification of income and employment, and consent to a criminal background check before being considered . These programs also receive a much larger number of applicants each year than they are realistically able to help, therefore illustrating the inadequate amount of support available to homeless individuals in California.
Support programs can also be difficult to find based only on a Google search, as a search
for transitional housing in California yields more information about the current need than it does actual resources. A deep dive through any public resource to find applicable support systems is time consuming and can required prolonged internet access, which is difficult to come by for those without housing. Opportunities for short-term internet access or office space are few and far between; libraries have been declining in number over the past few years, and due to the pandemic, many are currently unavailable for use by the general public. Therefore, not only is there a devastating need for affordable housing options in California, there is also a clearly- demonstrated need for things like affordable office space and internet access on a temporary basis, which homeless individuals could use to apply for jobs, do work, study, or research
All of the issues outlined above have yet to be satisfied with a single solution. Californians need affordable, safe, easily-accessible temporary housing with access to internet, workspaces, and storage facilities, to provide comfort and support while they search for new jobs and save up towards a more permanent housing solution. This is where BOSS Cubez come in.
BOSS Cubez units are completely customizable, providing anything from sleeping space to
office spaces and shared collaborative workspaces. The portable design of these units means that they can be set up and dismantled in as little as a few hours, ensuring low setup costs and little required manpower. This also helps to reduce overhead costs such as labor and base material costs, resulting in the ability to build more units in a shorter time and improving scalability far beyond that of traditional housing structures. The units can be outfitted with bathrooms, electricity, HVAC services, and internet where needed, allowing complete customization of the units to each occupant’s needs. This flexibility greatly reduces wasted resources and space, which cannot be similarly achieved with permanent structures. Above all, the BOSS Cubez units provide the houseless with the safety, comfort, and dignity they deserve, particularly while in such a vulnerable and unstable segment of their lives.