Officials in Los Angeles said Tuesday they would declare a state of emergency on the increasing homelessness problem and plan to commit $100 million toward services and housing for the homeless.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council President Herb Wesson and members of the council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee announced the plan outside of city hall as several homeless people sat on a lawn nearby, Associated Press reports. When announcing the plan, officials said they would focus on housing, including Garcetti’s proposal to spend $13 million on temporary rental subsidies and services this year.
According to the New York Times, an estimated 26,000 homeless people live in the streets of L.A. under freeway overpasses, on sidewalks and in parks instead of in shelters.
Garcetti said during the news conference in front of City hall that the city “has pushed this problem from neighborhood to neighborhood for too long, from bureaucracy to bureaucracy.” “Every single day we come to work, we see folks lying on this grass, a symbol our city’s intense crisis,” he said.
An emergency declaration and funding will require the full City Council’s action, according to AP. The council’s committee on homelessness and poverty would be responsible for allocating the money, NY Times reports.
Wesson said that the $100 million figure was partially picked for its symbolism and in part to show how serious the homelessness problem is in L.A.
“We wanted to send a message that we’re serious,” Wesson said. “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.”
Wessen added that he is unsure where the money will come from, but budget analysts will find it “somehow, someway.” The first round of funds, which could be gifted as early as January 2016, would go toward permanent housing for the homeless.
According to LA Times, the homelessness population has increased 12 percent in two years. Additionally, the number of tents, encampments and vehicles holding homeless people rose to 85 percent, according to biennial figures from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
So why is the population so large? Experts are blaming high unemployment, high rent rates and low wages in L.A. Specifically, they are looking at the disappearance of cheap single-room apartments in Venice and downtown, LA Times reports. Also, L.A.’s warm weather and ideal climate have attracted homeless people for years.