Los Angeles's new committee on homelessness was created four months ago with the hopes of tackling the growing rate of homelessness in the city head on, but a committee meeting this week revealed exactly how far, far, far away they are from solving the problem. Helmi Hisserich of the city's housing department tells KPCC that LA is currently able to produce just 300 units of permanent supportive housing a year, but it would need to build at least 1,500 units per year just to meet the demand.
The homelessness committee was proposed by LA City Council President Herb Wesson after a city report found about 23,000 homeless people living in LA, with $100 million being spent annually despite no focused city plan to address the problem (the majority of that money goes toward law enforcement anyway, not anything that actually helps out homeless people). The goal of the committee is to better coordinate the city's homeless efforts and create a city Homeless Czar to oversee its progress.
Councilmember Mike Bonin, who cochairs the committee, proposed in their first meeting in June that the city officially declare a state of emergency. "Three months later, we're still talking about how we need to declare a state of the emergency," Bonin said. "I think we need to actually, legitimately declare a state of emergency."
Some are blaming the lack of action on good ol' government red tape. Kevin Murray of the Weingart Center Association, which provides services on Skid Row, wonders why homelessness solutions are waiting behind day to day permitting minutia. "Should someone who is helping the city meet a priority need of homeless housing have to wait behind someone who is trying to raise their fence from six feet to eight feet?" Murray said. —Jeff Wattenhofer
· Los Angeles can't keep up with housing needs from homeless population [KPCC]
· COUNCIL VOTES TO CREATE HOMELESSNESS COMMITTEE [Council Press Release]
· Mapping the Widespread Homelessness That Runs Throughout Los Angeles County [Curbed LA]
· Nearly 1 Million People Were Homeless in Los Angeles Between 2002 and 2010 [Curbed LA]