The L.A. City Council has committed $100 million to address homelessness. Councilmember Jose Huizar, co-chair of the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, spoke at the announcement this morning.
“I want to thank the Council President, the Mayor and the City’s leadership for addressing the crisis that is homelessness in Los Angeles.
My District has by far the largest share of homeless in the City. If you walk five blocks south and one block over, you’ll enter the largest concentration of homeless in the Country -- about 4,000 homeless living in Skid Row.
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.
4,000 homeless just blocks from City Hall. Unfortunately, that is just a small percentage of the City’s homeless population. Yes, 85% of the City’s homeless population lives outside of Skid Row, throughout the City. This is clearly a Citywide issue.
Unless we change our approach, this crisis will continue to worsen. For too long, our strategies have been dictated by the latest lawsuit. For too long, we’ve had a containment policy. Out of sight, out of mind.
This approach to homelessness has failed. We can’t ignore the problem, and we can’t arrest our way out of it.
We are ready to tackle this crisis head on to create comprehensive solutions for the City and region.
I am proud to be co-chairing the Homelessness and Poverty Committee with Councilman Harris-Dawson.
The Homelessness and Poverty Committee has been working diligently and will continue to so, and it has directed City staff to develop a strategic plan for homelessness, which it expects to hear this December. Among other things, this plan will give us new approaches:
- housing strategies to address the gap between supply and demand for housing for the homeless;
- expanded outreach and services;
- ways to improve City interactions with individuals experiencing homelessness; and
- programs to divert people from homelessness when they are in the care of the City.
Setting aside funds will ensure that the work of the Homelessness and Poverty Committee will make an impact, as quickly as possible and as significantly as possible.
The almost $13 million that the Mayor has committed in immediate funding will make an immediate difference. And the $100 million to implement the Committee’s recommendations will provide long-term solutions.
Regarding the State of Emergency, this is something I actually had my staff look into previously on the state and federal level.
And while I look forward to hearing what our City staff comes up with as far what it means technically for the City, what it represents just as a statement – declaring a state of emergency on homelessness in the City of Los Angeles sends a clear message to all concerned that we are serious about addressing homelessness, that we are recognizing that it has reached a critical breaking point, that the sea of despair that we witness on the streets of Los Angeles each and every day must end and it begins with all of us here today.
As homelessness has increased throughout the City and County, how we respond to it could turn out to be one of the defining issues of our generation in the City and County of Los Angeles.