L.A. City Council Declares Homelessness an Emergency, Earmarks $100 Million for Solutions

L.A. City Council Declares Homelessness an Emergency, Earmarks $100 Million for Solutions

City Councilmembers elevate issue to high priority, commit dollars for permanent supportive housing, shelter and services

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles City Council has stepped up its efforts to solve homelessness today by declaring the epidemic an emergency, which will potentially allow the city to leverage additional resources including federal dollars to combat the issue. In conjunction with elevating the status of the issue city leaders are also dedicating up to $100 million for use in battling the growing number of homeless individuals and families. The first drawdown of the funds are expected January 1, 2016.

A motion submitted today by L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson and members of the city’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee approves up to $100 million to be spent on services for the homeless specifically prioritizing permanent supportive housing and shelter. The motion also calls on the Chief Administrative Officer and the Chief Legislative Analyst to work with the Homelessness and Poverty Committee to identify ways to leverage the investment to ensure an ongoing revenue stream to support the program. The committee is co- chaired by Councilmember Jose Huizar and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson and committee members include Councilmember Mike Bonin, Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo and Councilmember Curren Price.

“Craving protection from the elements is a basic human instinct and as a moral society we have an obligation to provide shelter for the shelterless,” said L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson. “Today we step away from the insanity of doing the same thing and hoping for different results and instead chart our way to ending homelessness in Los Angeles.”

The City Council’s efforts will complement the upcoming release of L.A. City Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to combat homelessness citywide. Garcetti’s plan is expected later this year. “Homelessness is a regional crisis, and unless we change our approach, it will just continue to worsen. Our budget must reflect our priorities, and setting aside funds will ensure the Homelessness and Poverty Committee can tackle this crisis head on to create comprehensive solutions for the city and region,” said L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar and co-chair of the Homelessness and Poverty Committee.

“A substantial infusion of resources is the only way to deal with the emergency situation we face,” said L.A. City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson and co-chair of the Homelessness and Poverty Committee. “This investment, along with commitment and coordination with Los Angeles County, neighboring cities and the private sector can set us on a path to sustainable recovery.”

“The crisis of homelessness in our neighborhoods haunts us and a crisis of this magnitude deserves a proportional response from local government,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin. “We must invest urgently in both long-term solutions and in immediate programs that move people off of sidewalks and into safe havens. Government needs an all-hands-on-deck approach to this crisis, and I’m glad we’re joining our mayor and our county partners in meeting this challenge.”

“Ending homelessness is a moral imperative that also makes financial sense for our city,” said L.A. City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. “We spend millions of dollars each year to manage the problem, but without any strategy or long term goals. The major investment of city resources that we’re proposing today is a serious attempt to find a solution to homelessness in Los Angeles. We need a well-funded, multi-year plan that is sustainable and supports the people in our city who need it most.”

“I proudly join my colleagues as we desperately work together to identify effective solutions to reduce homelessness in the city,” added L.A. City Councilmemeber Curren D. Price, Jr. “It is an honor to be part of these discussions that look at a variety of solutions, like the shortage of housing and affordability, to get a better handle on such a dire situation.

The Los Angeles region has seen an uptick in the number of homeless individuals and families over the last several years. A biennial report released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found more than half of Los Angeles County’s overall homeless population were living in the city of Los Angeles. Countywide, 44,359 homeless people were tallied in January, up from 39,461 in a 2013 survey.