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California sending 30 trailers to LA to shelter the homeless

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Coming February

The side of a large white vehicle with black and blue lettering that says “Freedom Select.” Two similar vehicles can be seen in the background
Some of the trailers being deployed to California cities were on display in Oakland last week.
Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom promised earlier this month to step up efforts to address soaring rates of homelessness in Los Angeles and beyond.

The first symbol of that commitment? Thirty travel trailers, scheduled to putter into LA County next month.

The mobile living spaces, accompanied by medical service tents, will be made available to families living without shelter, Newsom announced yesterday.

“This is one of the many tools in the toolbox we are using to address the crisis head-on,” he said in a statement.

In an executive order issued two weeks ago, Newsom directed the state’s Department of General Services to make 100 trailers used by emergency response workers available to homeless Californians. The first 15 will be delivered to the city of Oakland. Los Angeles will get twice that number on February 7.

Newsom also ordered that excess state land, vacant hospitals, and parcels alongside freeways be made available to California cities for construction of shelter housing.

The trailers are a surprising form of assistance. More than 16,000 people already live in cars, vans, and RVs countywide, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s 2019 homelessness count, but local laws in cities like Los Angeles severely restrict when and where people can sleep in vehicles.

Local leaders haven’t yet determined where the trailers deployed by the governor will be parked. But a motion approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors lists four potential sites, all in South LA.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who authored the motion, said in a statement that the county will continue to identify other sites for more temporary housing, even after the trailers find a home.

The financial resources California cities stand to receive could go further toward addressing the state’s homeless crisis. In a proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, Newsom suggests setting aside more than $1 billion to combat homelessness, including $750 million for a new fund directly available to service providers.

That money could be used to subsidize rents, fund affordable housing initiatives, and improve care facilities.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted to develop a legal framework and strategy to ensure services and housing are available for those “ready and willing to receive such services.”