Accuracy in Media

NBC News attempted to explain to its audience about the origins of California’s current homelessness crisis, but ultimately failed in outlining solutions. The news outlet published an article on homelessness, headlined, “How California’s homelessness crisis surged.”

The article interviewed several formerly-homeless individuals, along with local activists who were concerned about the state’s lack of affordable housing. They concluded that the state of California, in addition to cities and counties, ignored homelessness until it began to affect small businesses, public health, and other aspects of public life.

NBC News noted that rising rent prices are the primary driver of homelessness in California, with one measure showing that nearly half of Los Angeles County residents pay 50 percent of their income on rent.

As rent prices rose, homelessness rose 16 percent in California to 151,000 homeless people in 2019. Those whom NBC News interviewed blamed local and state leaders’ resistance to investing more funds in affordable housing. Instead of tackling homelessness directly, government officials pushed their responsibilities to law enforcement, hospitals, churches, and other civic organizations. These critics also pointed to the lack of social safety net programs for the homeless, such as job training or mental health treatments, which could help the homeless regain stability in their lives and re-integrate into society.

But NBC News’s article failed to hold government officials accountable for allegedly ignoring the homelessness crisis. The article did not mention a single politician’s name nor any recent proposals to resolve the homelessness crisis, such as pledges to build more affordable housing.

For example, NBC News should have included how the state of Utah has curbed homelessness. The state gave away strings-free affordable housing to homeless individuals, provided that the tenant “agrees to pay a nominal rent of no more than 30 percent of whatever income he has.” Other terms and conditions are that the tenant has to abide by lease agreements and the tenant is not forced to seek mental health treatments or addiction treatments. Instead, a full-time caseworker makes regular visits to tenants to help them transition back into society. Utah’s approach not only decreased homelessness, but it also was fiscally responsible.

Instead of offering potential solutions, NBC News did not offer information to the reader of how California could resolve its homelessness crisis. It relied on airing criticisms and grievances, but it failed to discuss potential solutions for California.

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