Los Angeles panel proposes homelessness emergency, funds

23 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

City Council Declares Local Emergency On Homelessness In LA.

City Council President Herb Wesson, members of the council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee and Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the plan outside City Hall — as homeless people dozed nearby on a lawn. “These are our fellow Angelinos,” the mayor said. “They are those who have no other place to go, and they are literally here where we work, a symbol our city’s intense crisis.” An emergency declaration and the funding will require action by the full City Council. Los Angeles, where the homeless were once mostly concentrated in downtown’s infamous Skid Row, is now so inundated with homeless people that tent cities are cropping up all over the city in highly visible places.That’s a question many are asking as Los Angeles elected leaders on Tuesday said they would declare a “state of emergency” on the growing homelessness problem and commit $100 million toward housing and other services for homeless people.LOS ANGELES — Declaring the growing homeless population a public emergency, the Los Angeles City Council is planning to spend $100 million to help get people off the streets.

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — City Council members declared a local emergency on Tuesday, which sought new resources to battle homelessness in Los Angeles. Wesson didn’t specify where the money would come from, but he said budget analysts would find it “somehow, someway.” The action came the morning after Garcetti proposed to release nearly $13 million in newly anticipated excess tax revenue for short-term housing initiatives. So overrun are its highways, parks, and underpasses by the sharp uptick in its homeless population—a 12% increase over the last two years alone—that today (Sept. 22) it declared a state of emergency.

Homeless encampments have increasingly appeared under freeway overpasses, in parks and on sidewalks across this sprawling city, where a majority of the estimated 26,000 homeless people live on the city’s streets and not in its shelters. “This city has pushed this problem from neighborhood to neighborhood for too long, from bureaucracy to bureaucracy,” Mr. If approved, the pair of initiatives could steer additional resources toward the city’s homeless population, which recent estimates have put at more than 20,000 and growing. Garcetti said during a news conference in front of City Hall. “Every single day we come to work, we see folks lying on this grass, a symbol of our city’s intense crisis.” The homeless population has increased about 12 percent since Mr.

LA’s crippling rents and declining wages—coupled with a slow-recovering economy and a tightening housing market—are putting an estimated 13,000 new people out on the streets each month. They point to gentrification downtown and in Venice, where cheap hotel rooms, motels and single-room apartments — once the last refuge of the poor — are being eliminated.

Alice Callaghan, a longtime advocate for the homeless on Skid Row, said the proposed funding would not be nearly enough to stop the loss of affordable housing, especially in rapidly gentrifying areas downtown and on the west side. “A hundred million dollars won’t even buy all the homeless pillows,” she said, contrasting LA’s proposal with New York City’s $41 billion affordable housing plan unveiled last year. “A hundred million certainly won’t build much housing — and what we really have here is a housing crisis.” Details of the councilmembers’ proposal weren’t immediately available. Earlier this year, a report showed that LA, which has the second-largest homeless population in the country by far, already spends about $100 million a year addressing problems caused by its high rate of homelessness. 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.

Small homeless enclaves have been multiplying in the city’s parks, along the busy sidewalks and under any highway overpass that has not already been staked out by a few hundred homeless citizens already. Garcetti has pledged to end homelessness, but he has grappled with criticism that the city takes a heavy-handed approach to enforcement while doing too little to help people find and pay for housing. The mayor stated that for too many years Los Angeles has just been shuffling the problem from one section of city to the other rather than taking the initiative to get the situation under control.

Garcetti said he wanted to see he wanted to see increased capacity and longer hours at shelters ahead of the anticipated arrival this winter of El Nino, an ocean-warming phenomenon that sometimes brings months of heavy rains to Southern California. For instance, LA’s special housing task force, assembled to tackle homelessness, is only building a fraction of the homes it needs, thanks in part to sky-high real estate prices. Without clear guidelines, departments instead tend to rely on ad hoc responses, according to the report by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana. The study said people from many systems, including those dealing with disability, mental health, foster care and criminal justice, fed into the homelessness pipeline. Callaghan said she feared the bulk of the new money would go toward “reducing the visibility” of the homeless ahead of a proposed bid to bring the Olympics to Los Angeles in 2024, which includes about $6 billion in public and private spending.

Wesson said. “Today, we step away from the insanity of doing the same thing and hoping for different results, and instead chart our way to ending homelessness.”

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