Los Angeles Homeless Spending Could Reach $ 1 Billion As Crisis Spreads | national news
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Faced with an out of control homelessness crisis, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday proposed spending nearly $ 1 billion next year to get people off the streets, build housing and clean up the squalid settlements that have spread. in almost every part of the city.
The blueprint for record-high spending comes as town hall is increasingly criticized for its inability to curb the growth of homelessness, even as the city continues to devote an ever-increasing share of its budget to programs intended for homeless people.
In a sprawling online speech that touched on issues ranging from climate change to WiFi access, Garcetti also proposed a pilot program to give public money to struggling households, known as Guaranteed Basic Income. He said $ 24 million in taxpayer dollars would be used to provide $ 1,000 per month to 2,000 households for one year, “No questions asked.”
The city would also fund a one-year pilot project to send a mental health professional – rather than a police officer – to non-violent crises among the homeless, focusing on hard-hit areas like Hollywood.
When Garcetti took office in 2013, the city was spending around $ 10 million to address homelessness. In his annual address to city council, he said he would propose spending $ 955 million for the year that begins July 1, funded in part by federal dollars.
At the same time, the number of homeless outreach workers funded by the city increased by 1,000%, from 11 to more than 120.
“We know that the key to ending homelessness is homes. Let us praise them. Let’s buy them. Let’s build them brand new, ”said the mayor.
Like many large cities, Los Angeles has struggled for decades to manage a homeless population. But while it was once largely confined to the famous downtown Skid Row area, rows of tents, cardboard shelters, battered RVs and makeshift plywood structures are now familiar sites in the second city. the most populous in the country.
The promenade along famous Sunset Boulevard is dotted with small and large encampments, often surrounded by piles of garbage, planed furniture and discarded clothing.
The funding will include nearly $ 100 million from the federal COVID rescue program, and the city hopes county, state and federal governments continue to expand their financial assistance.
It is only a guess if the surge in taxpayer dollars will bring about any visible change.
Garcetti said the homeless problem will remain without major national policy changes, including a revamped mental health care system and a so-called right to housing, which would make access to housing a right, same way that the federal government provides Medicaid and food. stamps for the needy.
In his speech, he called on the federal government to declare a national right to housing and fund vouchers that he said could help “make homelessness a thing of the past.”
Mike Arnold, president and CEO of Midnight Mission, which provides beds, meals and drug rehabilitation services on Skid Row, called the proposal “good news,” but feared the dollars would dwindle after a year.
He said he hoped the cash injection would help accelerate the slow rollout of a 2016 voter-approved bond measure to create 10,000 housing units over a decade.
Arnold is pointing the finger at New York City, which has roughly the same number of homeless people as Los Angeles and spends around a billion dollars each year to deal with its crisis. Currently, only about 25% of Los Angeles County’s 66,000 homeless are benefiting from available resources, Arnold estimates.
Arnold is also concerned that the city’s money is being poorly spent.
First, he says, the city needs enough beds for the new homeless. Then he needs interim housing for people with longer-term needs, such as addiction counseling or mental health treatment.
“And we also need affordable housing for low-income people who are mostly self-sufficient, who just need a boost. This is how a system is supposed to work, ”said Arnold.
The $ 955 million proposal will be included on Tuesday in the mayor’s annual budget plan, which must be approved by city council.
John Maceri, CEO of The People Concern, one of Los Angeles’ largest housing and social service agencies serving the homeless, welcomed the new funding, but added, “We have a long way to go. Browse.”
Along with additional funds, he said the city needs to cut red tape to increase funding and large-scale housing construction, while funding services for the homeless, many of whom suffer from drug and health problems. mental.
Taken together, “this is the answer,” Maceri said.
The speech comes at a time when the city struggles to emerge from the COVID crisis and recover from job losses due to a pandemic, slow the spread of homelessness, deal with rising rates crime and to combat racial tensions.
In his wide-ranging proposals, Garcetti also said he would seek to:
– Set up an advisory commission that could lead to the creation of a pilot slavery repair program for black residents.
– Declare a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling throughout the city.
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