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LA Mayor Wants to Spend $138 Million on Homelessness Next Year

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Mayor Garcetti's proposed budget calls for a huge increase in spending on homelessness

The city of LA is still trying to figure out how to pay for a nearly $2-billion plan to combat homelessness, but a new budget proposal released today by Mayor Eric Garcetti starts by setting aside a decent-sized chunk of money for addressing the problem. As reported by the LA Times, the mayor's budget calls for $138 million to be spent on homeless services next fiscal year. That's only a tiny fraction of the $8.7 billion budget, but it's a huge increase over the $18 million originally set aside in last year's budget, even after the mayor ordered an additional $16 million to be added.

Where's all the additional money coming from? Well, that's where things get a little tricky. Almost half of it would come from the general fund, but the rest would need to be raised during the year. $20 million is supposed to come from fees paid by real estate developers—fees the city does not yet collect. Accessing that money, then, will require the LA City Council to approve a plan to actually start collecting these fees. Garcetti seems confident this will happen, even claiming—somewhat unbelievably—that developers themselves have been asking him to start charging them. Still, best not to pencil in that $20 million just yet.

Meanwhile, another $47 million of the $138 million is actually just an appraisal of the value of eight city properties. According to the Daily News, these properties will be sold to fund homelessness initiatives, or will simply be developed into affordable housing. Either way, the effects of that $47 million figure aren't likely to be seen in the immediate future.

The city has been under pressure to address the issue of homelessness since a homeless count last year revealed that the number of homeless residents had risen 12 percent during Garcetti's first two years in office. A separate report from the city administrator showed that the city was already spending $100 million on homelessness unaccounted for in the budget, but the vast majority of that was going toward law enforcement, e.g., the criminalization of homelessness, which isn't terribly productive.

Whether or not it will help make a dent in the homelessness problem remains to be seen, but one thing about Garcetti's new budget is certain: if passed by the City Council, it will allow homeless residents to enjoy a lot more quality reading time. As the Times notes, the budget includes $1.5 million for the purchase and operation of bookmobiles that would specifically serve the homeless.