LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles City Council Friday is considering a motion that would enact a plan to provide housing for every transient in the city, as it continues to grapple with a housing shortage which has spiked rents and sent thousands of people into homelessness.
The motion, introduced last month by Councilmen Mike Bonin and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, says there is little evidence that anything is being done to create or improve shelters for the homeless in the city and that a true sense of emergency is needed to deal with the problem.
The 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found that 57,794 people are living on the streets of L.A. County, a 23 percent jump from the year before. Within the city of L.A., that number is more than 34,100.
The city has explored multiple options for dealing with its growing homeless population. In February, the council unanimously approved putting about 60 homeless people in trailers on a downtown lot at Arcadia and Alameda streets. The trailers, which contain bathrooms, showers and beds, are expected to cost about $2 million to build and another $1 million to operate.
However, the plan has received pushback from nearby restaurant owners, who say the high concentration of transients in the area has already hurt their business, and the trailers could make it worse.
Mayor Eric Garcetti defended it earlier this month.
“It’s not a choice of bringing homeless people to your neighborhood or not: they’re there,” Garcetti said. “You want to keep them off the street or bring them home. So from Boyle Heights, to downtown, to the Westside, to San Fernando Valley, we’re finding those allies and we’re pushing. And as mayor, I won’t accept no.”
Another proposal would convert hotels into permanent housing.
In November 2016, L.A. voters passed Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure to fund permanent housing for the homeless, but the units will take years to approve and build.
In March 2017, L.A. County voters adopted Measure H, a quarter-cent Los Angeles County sales tax to fund anti-homelessness programs. It is meant to generate $355 million annually for 10 years to fund a variety of programs to combat homelessness.
The motion being considered Friday seeks a number of actions from the L.A. Homeless Services Authority and from some city departments. With city assistance, the authority would be asked to provide several comprehensive reports within 14 days, including the framework for an Emergency Response Homeless Plan, outlining what steps and what funds would be required to provide an alternative to homeless encampments for 100 percent of the homeless population by the end of the year.
Peter Lynn, executive director of LAHSA, noted that since the passage of Measure H, they have seen an increase from 10 percent to 50 percent in the number of people who enter temporary shelters in the county and are transitioned into permanent supportive housing.
The homelessness crisis has plagued the entire Southland. In February, hundreds of homeless people were removed from a two-mile stretch of the Santa Ana riverbed, prompting a lawsuit from homeless advocates.
The transients who were cleared out were given motel vouchers as part of a deal worked out in federal court. But those vouchers are expiring, and Orange County and city officials have been scrambling to come up with a permanent housing solution for them.
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