Confronting the crisis: helping our homeless neighbors

Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis — an urgent and complex problem facing our city, state, and nation. The latest Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority annual count made it clear that this remains an emergency on our streets and in our neighborhoods, and we have to do more, faster, to combat it.

Today, Mayor Garcetti joined City Council President Herb Wesson, State Senator Holly Mitchell, and State Assemblymember Miguel Santiago for a press briefing on how L.A. is responding to the homelessness crisis.

 

At our Unified Homelessness Response Center with an update on the work we’re doing to help homeless Angelenos and the new state funding we’re going to put to work to help people move indoors and prevent others from ending up on the streets.

Posted by Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday, July 8, 2019


 

GOOD NEWS FROM SACRAMENTO
Mayor Garcetti ran through a series of updates on our progress and spoke candidly about the challenges we face. And he started with good news from Sacramento: last week, Governor Newsom and state legislators made homelessness a priority in the state budget.

Los Angeles will receive $124 million of those state funds, a 46% increase from our city’s allotment last year. Mayor Garcetti proposes investing in six priorities:

  1. Preventing Homelessness, with a more than $14 million investment in supporting our eviction defense program, emergency rental assistance, and other efforts to reunify people with their families and keep them in their homes.
  2. Bridge Housing, with nearly half of these state funds dedicated to adding shelter beds and getting interim housing sites open faster than before.
  3. Innovative and Alternative Permanent Housing Models, with more than $9 million going to initiatives like shared housing, master-leasing motels, or rental subsidies for especially vulnerable populations.
  4. Skid Row, with more than $7 million of new funding directed to our place-based strategy at ground zero of this crisis.
  5. Youth Homelessness, with about $10 million specifically designated to keep homeless young people from becoming chronically homeless.
  6. Public Health, with $16.5 million used to pair hygiene resources with housing, outreach, and employment services — so people can have a clean and healthy environment while they rebuild their lives and access housing.

The details and final amounts will be worked out with our City Council, after considering feedback from the public and our non-profit partners. But this money cannot come soon enough — and when it does, our team will ensure that it is spent as quickly as possible to make a difference on our streets.

State Funding



STREET STRATEGIES
There has been a lot of attention on the condition of our streets and its impact on the health and safety of our communities.

Here’s a sample of what’s been happening on our streets and sidewalks:

  • In three weeks in June, our city’s outreach teams made over 1,200 contacts with individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • Last month, our sanitation crews conducted 500 comprehensive cleanups near homeless encampments, removed more than 1,300 tons of solid waste, and cracked down on illegal dumping sites.
  • We have saturated the zones around our A Bridge Home shelters with resources, services, and outreach.
  • This Thursday, the City’s first-ever Public Health Task Force will convene its first meeting — bringing together, in one place, oversight on all of our public health initiatives, including illegal dumping and rodent abatement.

Soon, you’ll also see our revamped Sanitation strategy in action, as we redeploy our resources and grow our workforce to handle more frequent cleanups and daily trash collection; increase public health resources at encampments; deliver regular hygiene services; and bring our comprehensive cleaning and rapid engagement, or CARE, teams to areas of highest need.
Citywide



BRIDGE HOUSING
Until we have enough affordable and supportive housing up and running, we need temporary solutions to get more people off the streets and indoors.

That’s why Mayor Garcetti started our A Bridge Home shelter program last fall. Since then, four facilities have opened: El Puente, which is downtown near El Pueblo; the YWCA and Schrader in the Hollywood area; and Casa Azul in Westlake. Altogether, they are providing a total of 222 beds with services to homeless Angelenos drawn from nearby high-density encampments.

We have 21 more bridge housing shelters in development across the City in every Council District but one — with more than 1,900 beds expected to open up over the next 12 months — and there are more shelters in the works.

Shelters



AFFORDABLE, SUPPORTIVE, AND PERMANENT HOUSING
From day one, the Garcetti administration has set out to grow the supply of housing and expand the number of affordable and supportive units across our city.

Our first target: build 100,000 new units of housing by 2021 — a goal we will soon reach, two years ahead of schedule.

Next up, we are working to increase affordable housing in L.A by:

  • Charging developers a “linkage fee” to raise $50-100 million a year for new affordable housing over the next decade.
  • Hiring 4 new staffers in my office of City Homelessness Initiatives just last month to speed up approvals for homeless housing.

Finally, we need more supportive housing that gets chronically homeless Angelenos housed permanently:

  • With Prop. HHH dollars in-hand, we have 110 of these projects in the pipeline — when complete, that’ll mean more than 7,400 new units.
  • By early 2020, we will see a total of 327 additional units open their doors, 224 of them designed for our homeless neighbors.

Housing



SKID ROW
The epicenter of this crisis is Skid Row. With the initial State funds received last year, we directed $20 million here to expand hygiene infrastructure and improve and expand cleanups in the community.

On the public health front:

  • After the typhus cases last year, we can report today that cases of flea-borne typhus have returned to baseline levels, with just a single case reported in 2019.
  • This fall, we will quadruple the size of our ReFresh Spot — a personal care center that provides showers, toilets, and laundry facilities for Angelenos experiencing homelessness — increasing the number of washers, dryers, and drinking fountains, and adding new community spaces for Skid Row residents.  

There’s more to come, including:

  • A new BIN facility to expand the units where Skid Row residents can safely store their most valuable belongings.
  • A new, $2 million Skid Row Street Cleaning Program that will employ about 20 residents of Skid Row to provide trash pickup five days a week.
  • New crisis beds for women in Skid Row at Downtown Women’s Center, set to open this month, and new crisis units to serve families from Skid Row.

Skid Row



ADVOCACY
We know that we cannot tackle this emergency alone. We now need more assistance from our nation’s capital to get the job done. Here’s what Mayor Garcetti did in June to attract more federal attention to our crisis:

  • Hosted Congresswoman Maxine Waters and several members of L.A.’s congressional delegation at City Hall to discuss federal legislation on homelessness.
  • Led a coalition of mayors from across the country to call on Congress to pass Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ Ending Homelessness Act and legislation introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Ted Lieu to expand services and housing.
  • Invited the federal government to be our partner, because this issue is not about politics. It’s about saving lives.

 

As the Mayor mentioned in his last letter to the people of Los Angeles, our ability to turn adversity into progress is what makes us a true City of Angels. That’s what L.A. did after the Northridge earthquake, the civil unrest of 1992, and the Great Recession.

We don’t run from a challenge — we rise to it. And we will do so once again.