A note from Mike
Today, in an effort to complement the work and tremendous leadership of Mayor Eric Garcetti and the County of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles City Council took some big steps to address homelessness in Los Angeles.
The biggest news is that President Herb Wesson, Councilmembers Jose Huizar and Paul Krekorian and I introduced a motion committing $100 million in city funds to combat homelessness and help move people off the streets and into housing, shelter and supportive services. That is a significant and serious amount of money to make sure the City is finally getting real about this crisis. Our Homelessness Committee (on which I serve with Councilmembers Huizar, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Curren Price and Gil Cedillo) and Mayor Garcetti and his team will be developing the plan to spend the money, and we will work closely with the County to make sure our efforts are in sync. The range of options include building permanent supportive housing, creation of a program to provide vouchers for rapid rehousing or interim housing; financing of an expanded system of emergency or specialized shelters and safe parking; and the provision of storage facilities and restrooms for people without shelter.
State of Emergency
Secondly, Councilmember Cedillo and I introduced a proposal to officially declare homelessness a State of Emergency in Los Angeles. 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.
Emergency Winter Shelter program
Thirdly, with El Nino coming, we voted today to tell LAHSA that we should open the emergency winter shelter program early (November instead of December), keep the shelters open 24-7 when it is raining, and extend the program to the end of the wet weather season.
At the same time, Mayor Garcetti previewed some of his proposals, including providing more money for rapid rehousing, short-term rental subsidies, regional storage facilities, showers, and more, including funds to help pay for expanded winter shelter program. Significantly, the mayor also sets aside $5 million for subsidies for non-chronic, non-veteran homelessness, which means we will not be waiting for people to descend into chronic homeless before we help them. I am particularly grateful to Mayor Garcetti for his leadership and his proposals because it helps provide both immediate and long-term solutions and addresses all types of homelessness.
The council will flesh out a full and detailed plan by the end of the calendar year, informed by the comprehensive package of proposals the mayor and his team are preparing, and shaped by big upcoming county initiatives. With all of this happening, and with the VA working on a plan (to be unveiled next month) to house homeless vets at the WLA campus, it is clear that it is now “all hands on deck” in our effort to address this crisis. But this is only a small start, and we need to make these initiatives real. As we proceed with all of this, I am determined that we do not make a big promise of providing housing, and forget that we need to get people off our sidewalks in the meantime. I will be focusing on making sure we have resources such as emergency shelter, safe havens, interim and bridge housing, rental subsidies to make sure we provide rapid rehousing, safe parking, storage, bathrooms and more. And I am intent on making sure that we do not limit our response to the chronically homeless or veterans, because we must families, runaways, those who recently became homeless, and so much more. Those living on the street cannot wait for the housing to be built, and neither can our neighborhoods, which have become campgrounds.
You can find copies of all the motions referenced above below this note.
More, much more to come,