A state of emergency on homelessness was declared by the Los Angeles City Council Tuesday, an announcement that included calling for $100 million to help curb the crisis.
According to CNN, Mayor Eric Garcetti emphasized on the need to combat the issue of homelessness in a statement, saying, “We all understand the urgency that this situation requires, and what is at stake. I applaud the Los Angeles City Council for their action today in earmarking a necessary initial investment that helps launch my comprehensive plan to tackle homelessness.”
The statistics released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority reveal that homelessness in Los Angeles has jumped by 12 percent since the mayor took office two years ago. The $100 million funding towards helping curb the issue will include more permanent housing, shelter beds and other homeless services. In a press conference, Councilperson Gilbert Cedillo said that homelessness was spreading throughout the city and was interfering with what the city has to offer. “If we want to be a great city that hosts the Olympics and shows itself off to the world, we shouldn’t have 25,000 to 50,000 people sleeping on the streets,” he said. He further said that the problem of homelessness “has cost us money, and most importantly it’s cost us lives.”
Garcetti said that the problem of LA’s homelessness has moved “from neighborhood to neighborhood” and “bureaucracy to bureaucracy” for too long. “Every single day we come to work, we see folks lying on this grass, a symbol of our city’s intense crisis,” he said. Around 13,000 are being put on the streets each month owing to the state’s decreasing wages, tightening housing market, and an economy that is recovering very slowly. LA has the second largest population of homeless people.
City Council President Herb Wesson said the proposal will come up for a vote by the full council accompanied by an announcement that homelessness in LA is an emergency. This will enable LA to receive federal funding, Wesson’s office said.
Garcetti, who pledged last year to bring the problem of homelessness among veterans to an end by 2015, said the $100 million that is being called for towards combating homelessness should be a recurring, annual expenditure. The money is expected to become available from January 2016.
With real estate prices soaring high, LA’s special housing task force – which was designed to tackle the issue of homelessness – has only managed to build a fraction of the homes required. Coucilmember Mike Bonin said, “The proposal is more than just words. It calls for the fast-tracking of and a special, streamlined process for affordable housing. It also makes it easier for nonprofits and faith institutions to operate shelters and safe parking programs, and opens up the possibility for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to use city facilities for the same purpose.”
According to Reuters, in excess $13 million from the city’s general funding is being spent for homeless programs, winter shelters, housing vouchers and outreach to homeless veterans, Assistant City Administrative Officer, Ben Ceja, said.
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