Los Angeles is set to get a big helping hand in combatting it's out-of-control homelessness problem. California state senators have announced plans for a massive financial initiative aimed at building much-needed permanent housing for the homeless across the entire state, and Los Angeles, as home to the highest concentration of unsheltered homeless Californians, would receive a significant portion of the housing funds. The proposed "No Place Like Home" initiative would provide $2 billion in funding for new permanent housing, as well as bolstering existing relief programs for those with mental and physical disabilities, reports KPCC.
Though the entire state would benefit from the increased funding, much of the money would be geared towards assisting LA's rapidly growing homeless population. Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León says that LA would be receiving a "good portion" of the funding, as some 44,000 of California's 100,000 homeless people live in Los Angeles County. If approved by the legislature and Governor Jerry Brown, the funds would be available in early 2017.
The $2-billion bond would go towards the construction and rehabilitation of permanent housing for chronically homeless people with mental illness. While those new permanent housing units are being constructed, $200 million will be allocated over four years to fund short-term housing through rent subsidies. Income support programs like Supplemental Security Income and State Supplementary Payment are also getting some funding; they'll be able to increase the grants they offer elderly, blind, or disabled citizens who cannot work, which is expected to assist nearly 1.3 million Californians living in poverty. The initiative would be funded by Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act of 2004 that taxes the wealthy to pay for mental health services.
The $2 billion would also help build between 10,000 and 14,000 housing units for homeless people across the state. To put this in some local context, it was recently found that LA was producing just 300 units of homeless housing every year, but that number of units would have to be boosted to 1,500 every year to keep up with demand. Provided that LA gets a significant portion of the funding, this might be enough to help put a dent in the staggering demand for homeless housing.
Mayor Eric Garcetti is applauding the plan, saying the battle against homelessness requires an "all-hands-on-deck" approach. There's a good chance he's also breathing a sigh of relief to be getting a little financial help from above—it still remains to be seen what Garcetti's plans are for combatting homelessness on a local level. He promised $100 million in homeless assistance last year amid a push to declare war on homelessness in LA, but after allocating $12.45 million for emergency winter shelters, the city mostly went silent as to where the money was coming from or how the rest would be spent. The city is expected to release a report this month that will detail their plan.
· California lawmakers propose $2 billion 'No Place Like Home' plan to aid homeless [KPCC]
· State legislators seek $2 billion for homeless housing [LA Daily News]
· Los Angeles Producing Just a Fifth of the Homeless Housing it Needs Every Year [Curbed LA]
· Los Angeles Seems to Have Abandoned Its Homelessness State of Emergency Already [Curbed LA]
· The Number of Chronically Homeless People in Los Angeles Shot Up 55 Percent in Two Years [Curbed LA]