With already over 44,000 homeless people living in the streets of Los Angeles and counting, Mayor Eric Garcetti declared the situation a “state of emergency” and recently proposed to spend $100 million as an effort to ease the problem.
“We wanted to do two things—one was to declare a sense of urgency; that this was an emergency, which legally allows us to open up our shelters earlier, even before we get rain or cold days, which is the legal requirement,” Garcetti said in an NPR interview. “But it was also a political emergency that we want to see an increased amount of funding, not only to see at the local level—and we’re working together very closely with the County of Los Angeles on this—but also from our state and national leaders where we’ve seen a lot of housing dollars cut back over the last few years precisely when we need them the most.”
Ever since the mayor came into office two years ago, there has been a 12 percent increase among the rate of homeless people in the city. In addition, 13,000 Los Angeles residents identify as homeless each month, according to an estimate made by Economic Roundtable looking at data from 2002 to 2010.
So what is different about this new effort?
The mayor and city officials plan to open up more affordable housing and permanent supportive housing and shelters. In addition, $12.6 million will be taken from unexpected tax revenue for short-term rental subsidies and services as well as $1 million to create centers where the homeless could shower and store their belongings, according to New York Times.
On September 29, Los Angeles County supervisors agreed to add $50 million toward funding. About $905,000 will go toward more shelter beds during winter months and $1.1 million will be earmarked for homeless veterans for moving costs, according to Los Angeles Times.
By declaring this a state of emergency, it seems clear that Garcetti and city officials have good intentions. However, the real question is whether or not they are really capable of doing it all?
For decades, city officials have made multiple efforts to help the homeless. None of which seemed to have worked.
In 2006, for example, Bring Los Angeles Home promised to end homelessness in 10 years. L.A. county officials also launched the Homeless Prevention Initiative. They had all sort of strategies such as outreach, housing, and rehabilitative services, but they failed to follow through with their plans.
What if this happens again?
The $100 million proposal has not been approved yet and the situation could go any other way since plans and strategies are still being formed. But if the government does follow through with all their proposals, especially the $100 million budget plan, then chances are this homelessness situation may change.
For now, it is still not clear whether this $100 million proposal would work or if Garcetti and city officials are capable of doing what they promise to do.
Only they know the answer to all of this and if they have the true political and moral will to fight this crisis.
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