Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed the city's homelessness crisis in a speech at the Unified Homeless Response Center on Monday, outlining how $124 million allocated from the state budget — a 46% increase from last year — will be invested to curb the growing problem.
Garcetti and other local and state officials shared updates about progress made in June alone, including contact with over 1,200 individuals experiencing homelessness; 500 "comprehensive cleanups" near homeless encampments; and the removal of over 1,300 tons of solid waste.
Following last year's $20 million investment in Skid Row, the center of Los Angeles' homelessness crisis, the city also announced that it will fund a major expansion of the area's personal care hub, ReFresh Spot. The center will quadruple in size, "increasing the number of washers, dryers, and drinking fountains, and adding new community spaces for Skid Row residents," Garcetti said.
Los Angeles came under renewed fire recently following President Trump's remarks about the state of homelessness in cities "run by very liberal people." Trump asserted that Los Angeles and San Francisco are two cities where homelessness is a new issue. "It's a phenomenon that started two years ago," he said. “It's disgraceful... We've never had this in our lives before, in our country."
In fact, homelessness has been an issue in Los Angeles and cities across the country for longer than two years. Los Angeles declared a state of emergency for the issue in 2015. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported that despite an uptick in homelessness from 2017 through 2018, overall homelessness has decreased 15% since it peaked in 2007.
The number of homeless people living in Los Angeles, however, increased 16% in the last year, according to a report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
The rise in homelessness occurred despite an increase in homeless services investments and a reported drop in homelessness in 2018. Garcetti called the increase "heartbreaking" in a statement to the Los Angeles Times, but his administration appears to remain steadfast in its efforts to fight the crisis.
Los Angeles and tech hubs like San Francisco and Seattle are grappling with a major obstacle that is proving difficult to overcome: providing more affordable housing.
Los Angeles plans to address the lack of affordable housing with a new measure that will fund and update supportive housing for the homeless. The initiative was funded with a $1.2 billion Proposition HHH supportive housing bond.
The Garcetti administration plans to build 100,000 new housing units by 2021 and charge a "linkage fee" to developers that will raise $50-100 million a year for affordable housing, according to Monday's updates. The city also plans to open 327 additional units by 2020, with 224 of those units designed to permanently keep chronically homeless people off the streets.
Until those units are up-and-running, the city is using a shelter program that started last fall called, "A Bridge Home." Today's active facilities have a total of 222 beds. Over the next 12 months, there are plans to develop 21 more bridge housing shelters with a total of 1,900 beds.