As homelessness continues to be a major problem in Los Angeles, elected officials and members of the community are addressing the crisis both in support of and in opposition to the City’s current leadership.
In response to our feature by Alexandra Datig in last month’s edition of Plans & Permits, we offered Mayor Garcetti an exclusive opportunity to address these important issues with our readers. The Mayor’s office replied with previously publicly released statements which we have summarized below for our readers.
At his second and most recent briefing on how the City of Los Angeles is confronting the homelessness crisis the Mayor stated the City is putting every available resource into getting people off the streets and under a roof as quickly as possible, helping homeless Angelenos rebuild their lives, and doing more to keep our streets and sidewalks clean and safe.
Recently, the Mayor spent time with teams in Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley, South L.A., and Northeast L.A. by the banks of the L.A. River. Here are more of the results of their efforts in July:
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.
The programs and initiatives being pursued and developed by the Mayor include:
As Governor Newsom and the state legislature makes homelessness a priority issue, Mayor Garcetti recently announced that Los Angeles will receive $124 million of state funds, a 46% increase from the city’s allotment last year. The Mayor proposes investing in six priorities:
Preventing Homelessness: more than $14 million will be invested in supporting eviction defense, emergency rental assistance, and efforts to reunify people with their families and keep them in their homes.
Bridge Housing: half of the state funds will be dedicated to adding shelter beds and getting interim housing sites open faster than before.
Innovative and Alternative Permanent Housing Models: more than $9 million will be spent on initiatives including shared housing, master-leasing motels, or rental subsidies for especially vulnerable populations.
Skid Row: more than $7 million of new funding will be directed to the Mayor’s place-based strategy at ground zero of this crisis.
Youth Homelessness: about $10 million will specifically be designated to keep homeless young people from becoming chronically homeless.
Public Health: $16.5 million will be used to pair hygiene resources with housing, outreach, and employment services to support a clean and healthy environment while people rebuild their lives and access housing.
STREETS, HEALTH AND SAFETY
Additionally, the Mayor has begun to address the condition of LA streets and the impact on the health and safety of our communities. A sample of what’s being done on local streets and sidewalks includes:
- In three weeks in June, LA City outreach teams made over 1,200 contacts with individuals experiencing homelessness.
- In September, LA City 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.
- The City has saturated the zones around the A Bridge Home shelters with resources, services, and outreach.
- The City’s first-ever Public Health Task Force is convening its first meeting this month bringing together oversight on all of the public health initiatives, including illegal dumping and rodent abatement.
The Mayor is also promising a revamped Sanitation strategy, which will
– redeploy resources and grow the local workforce to handle more frequent cleanups and
daily trash collection
– increase public health resources at encampment and
– deliver regular hygiene services
In addition to the work done by the CARE pilot program, City-funded LAHSA outreach workers connected with more than 1,800 homeless Angelenos across Los Angeles in September, a small fraction of the annual outreach conducted by County-funded personnel and resources in support of the community.
A BRIDGE HOME SHELTERS
Last month, Mayor Garcetti cut the ribbon on a new A Bridge Home shelter at the Downtown Women’s Center, making 25 beds and critical services available to women every night in Skid Row and provide temporary solutions to get more people off the streets and indoors.
The A Bridge Home shelter program was started last fall and since then, four facilities have opened: El Puente, downtown near El Pueblo, the YWCA and Schrader in Hollywood, and Casa Azul in Westlake. Altogether, these facilities are providing a total of 222 beds with services to homeless Angelenos drawn from nearby high-density encampments.
The City is developing 21 more bridge housing shelters for placement throughout the City in every Council District which will make more than 1,900 beds available to homeless Angelenos over the next 12 months, and the Mayor’s office is planning to build more shelters after that.
The City has announced that during the coming weeks, the number of shelter beds available across the city will nearly double as 100 are added at St. Andrews in South L.A., 100 at Imperial in Watts, and 30 at Gardner in Hollywood. 6 additional sites have begun or are approaching construction as part of the total of 26 shelters the City plans to open by the end of the fiscal year next July.
LONG TERM STRATEGIES
In addition to building emergency shelters, the City’s long-term strategy is to open 10,000 new units of permanent supportive housing across Los Angeles. The City now has 150 of these developments in the pipeline, including 6 new projects recommended for approval as part of our Housing Innovation Challenge — which sets aside $120 million in Prop. HHH funds to identify innovative housing production models and finance up to 1,000 new homeless housing units — all of which can be built in under two years. Recommended awardees are:
Outside these developments, here are nine more supportive housing sites that are at least 40 percent complete.
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