LA to declare ‘state of emergency’ on homelessness, commit $100 million

22 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

City Council Declares Local Emergency On Homelessness In LA.

Los Angeles officials say they will declare a state of emergency on homelessness and propose spending $100 million to reduce the number of people living on city streets. LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — City Council members declared a local emergency on Tuesday, which sought new resources to battle homelessness in Los Angeles.The Los Angeles City Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee and Council President Herb Wesson are expected today to declare homelessness an emergency.

If approved, the pair of initiatives could significantly increase the resources dedicated to tackling homelessness in a city where the majority of the 26,000 homeless people live on the streets. “It’s not a skid row problem. A January count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found that homelessness in the county had increased 12% in the last two years, from 39,461 homeless individuals in 2013 to 44,359 this year. The council’s efforts are expected to “complement” Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to combat homelessness, which he has said will be released soon, according to a statement from Wesson’s office. He was joined by several council members at the press conference. “If we want to be a great city that hosts the Olympics and shows itself off to the world,” Cedillo said, “we shouldn’t have 25,000 to 50,000 people sleeping on the streets.” Garcetti told reporters that city and county officials are tackling a “heartbreaking crisis” that has gripped L.A. for decades. “Today we’re going to tackle it head-on,” he said. “This city has pushed this problem from neighborhood to neighborhood for too long, from bureaucracy to bureaucracy, pointing fingers,” Garcetti added. County’s overall homeless population lives in the City of Los Angeles. “Ending homelessness is a moral imperative that also makes financial sense for our city,” explained L.A.

The $100 million, if approved, would be directed to the council’s housing committee, with committee members deciding how to spend it on projects including long-term housing and an expansion of shelter capacity, Ceja said. Garcetti’s proposal, detailed in a letter sent to City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, aims to complement the work of the City Council, providing a package of more immediate funding that is available, mayoral spokeswoman Connie Llanos said. In the letter, Garcetti calls on Santana, the city’s top budget advisor, to recommend more than $10 million in short-term rental subsidies, with just over half of the funds dedicated to housing homeless veterans. The remainder, about $2.6 million, would go toward other services including the development of regional storage facilities and the opening of shelters one month earlier than planned. “Overall, increasing resources are good,” Blasi said. But he cautioned that the estimates provided by Garcetti “didn’t compute” in L.A.’s expensive real estate market, such as a $5-million allocation that was touted as potentially providing short-term housing for 1,000 people.

Tuesday’s announcement comes five months after Santana, the top budget official, released a report estimating that L.A. spends more than $100 million annually on issues stemming from homelessness. But other agencies — including those that oversee parks, libraries, street maintenance and paramedic services — also are contending with the issue, the report said. In a survey, employees in the city’s 73 libraries estimated they had an average of 680 to 780 homeless patrons each day, according to Santana’s report. Those workers have been trying to preserve the rights of the homeless to use their facilities while also arranging for security to deal with “violent patrons,” Santana said in April. “[Library] leadership stated that they welcomed all library patrons, including the homeless, but had recently struggled with a perceived increase in violent or unruly incidents related to patrons who appeared to be both homeless and mentally ill — and an increase in complaints about homeless patrons from other library users,” he wrote.

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