Homelessness: How We Got Here & How L.A. is Responding

“Los Angeles is seizing this moment — fighting to make sure that our children don’t have to ask: ‘Why is that woman sleeping on a bench? Doesn’t she have someone to take care of her?’ The answer is yes. The City of Los Angeles is going to put everything we’ve got into bringing her home.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti

 

How We Got Here

Stagnant Wages: One in five residents lives in poverty. That’s why Mayor Garcetti led the successful effort to raise L.A.’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is lifting incomes for more than 500,000 workers.

Housing Shortage: One-third of California renters spend half of their income on rent — and a recent study showed that if rents in L.A. County increase by 5%, another 2,000 people would fall into homelessness. Mayor Garcetti is taking on that shortage with a comprehensive, inclusive housing strategy — and he fought to pass the Affordable Housing Linkage Fee, which will generate up to $100 million a year to create affordable housing for low-income Angelenos.

Cuts to Mental Health Care: In 1981, the federal government ended its role in providing services to the mentally ill. Today, the City is marching side-by-side with the County to hire an army of 1,000 new outreach workers and service providers. Measure H is delivering $355 million each year to provide mental health, addiction, and employment services to people in desperate need.

Domestic and Sexual Abuse: Countywide, 56% of homeless women are victims of domestic violence; in Skid Row, the percentage skyrockets to almost 91%. Mayor Garcetti has funded new shelters for victims of slavery and human trafficking, and expanded our domestic abuse response teams to all 21 police divisions.

Challenges with the Implementation of Criminal Justice Reform: California voters passed sweeping criminal justice reforms on the promise that people being released from incarceration would be met on the outside with services and opportunities — funded by the savings achieved by reducing the prison population. That promise has not yet been fulfilled, at a time when up to 50% of homeless Americans have a history of incarceration. Mayor Garcetti responded by opening the first Office of Reentry since Tom Bradley was mayor, and has already connected hundreds of formerly incarcerated people to job opportunities, and many more with legal services and pathways to housing. Only 1.4% of participants in the Mayor’s New Roads to Second Chances jobs program have returned to prison, compared to the average rate of recidivism rate in California, which is estimated to exceed 66%.

Lack of Resources for Veterans: An estimated 150 veterans fall into homelessness each month in Los Angeles. Since Mayor Garcetti took office, more than 8,400 veterans have received housing — and his 10,000 Strong jobs program has connected more than 10,000 veterans to full-time employment.

 

How L.A. is Responding

Under Mayor Garcetti’s leadership, City Hall is taking unprecedented action to end street homelessness in Los Angeles.

Four years ago, there was less than $20 million in the city budget for homelessness. Mayor Garcetti’s 2018-19 budget includes $431 million dollars to take on the crisis, including a $20 million Crisis and Bridge Housing Fund that is the crux of his A Bridge Home plan. Mayor Garcetti also pushed for state funding to help accelerate the work of ending the homelessness crisis. The successful effort resulted in an additional $166 million in state funding to Los Angeles for homeless services and housing.

Today, every single member of the City Council has pledged to put a minimum of 222 new units in neighborhoods across Los Angeles over the next two years.

Four years ago, the City and County weren’t working well together. Today, we’re working hand in hand.

Four years ago, we had no long-term funding to build new homes for unsheltered Angelenos. Today, the voters of Los Angeles have radically reshaped our future, giving us a mandate to effectively end street homelessness over the next decade.

Four years ago, City Hall wasn’t delivering comprehensive services to lift people out of homelessness for good. Today, Mayor Garcetti’s No Wrong Door Executive Directive is in full effect:

The Mayor stood up a Unified Homelessness Response Center in the City’s Emergency Operations Center, putting all critical City Departments (along with partners like the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and Metro) at the same table to respond to the crisis together — proactively and in real-time — with services and engagement with the goal of bringing people indoors.

Our libraries help homeless patrons get IDs to access essential services … The Fire Department launched a SOBER Unit that delivers Angelenos struggling with substance abuse to treatment programs, instead of cycling in and out of the Emergency Room … The LAPD helped build a shelter bed database, so that outreach workers can connect people on the street with beds available tonight … And we opened up the ReFresh Spot on Skid Row — offering toilets, showers, laundry services, and dignity for folks who are living at the epicenter of this crisis.