Homelessness State of Emergency in LA

Homelessness State of Emergency in LAHomelessness is a perpetual fact in Los Angeles; however, the City has seen such a dramatic rise in homelessness and its attendant problems in the last year that the Mayor and some city council members declared a state of emergency on September 22, 2015 and proposed a plan for $100 million in housing and other programs benefitting the homeless.

According to the CEO of Los Angeles’ Union Rescue Mission, six years ago the City shifted funding from emergency shelters and transitional housing to “Housing First” and “Home for Good,” which left many people out in the cold. He estimates that the number of homeless on Skid Row has doubled in the past year and “There is complete lawlessness. And we’re not talking about jaywalking.”

Meanwhile, according to Mayor Garcetti, the City’s housing trust fund “was cut at its lowest level by almost 80 percent.” Furthermore, Los Angeles County has merely 36 outreach workers to assist approximately 45,000 homeless people.

In an attempt to address the growing problems, the Mayor and members of the city council have proposed a $100 million plan to provide housing for the homeless, increase outreach and other services, and offer programs to redirect people from the streets. The plan must still be approved by the City Council.

The $100 million funding is questionable at this point. Mayor Garcetti proposed assigning the $13 million in anticipated excess tax revenue to short-term housing. Where will the remaining $87 million come from? Good question.

Advocates for the homeless welcome the Mayor’s proposal but are concerned by the lack of specifics. Becky Dennison of the Los Angeles Community Action Network said, “We need that [funding] annually, and we need it for new housing units.” Union Rescue Mission’s CEO stated, “I just think there needs to be some guidance on encouraging the mayor on how that money is spent.”

However, the problems are approach, the Mayor and several city council members intend to face those problems head-on. City councilman Jose Huizar asserts, “The human suffering that occurs on Skid Row is astonishing — it will literally take your breath away. That kind of suffering, that kind of desperation, should not be happening in the City of Los Angeles, but it is. It’s a humanitarian crisis and a moral shame.”

By Kathy Catanzarite

Source: Kathy Catanzarite – Staff Writer

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