The homeless population in Los Angeles has increased 12 percent since 2013, leading city officials on Tuesday to declare a state of emergency and dedicate $100 million to tackle the problem.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that he plans to free up another $13 million in the next few months to find housing for homeless people, the Los Angeles Times reported
Council members said the state of emergency declaration, which must be voted on by city council, will allow officials to relieve restrictions on churches and nonprofit groups sheltering the homeless and speed up the affordable housing permit process.
"It's time to get real, because this is literally a matter of life and death," Los Angeles councilman Mike Bonin said of the city's homeless situation. "[There has been a] collective failure of every level of government to deal with what has been a homeless crisis for generations and is exploding and exacerbating now."
The Los Angeles Daily News in August cited an Economic Roundtable
report that said nearly 1 million county residents who received public assistance between 2002 and 2010 had experienced homelessness. The report went on to say that 42 percent of that group did not receive the necessary help in finding stable housing.
"Housing alone will not provide a solution until the pathways into homelessness are narrowed," authors of the Economic Roundtable study stated, according to the Daily News. "The numbers who become chronically homeless is creating a level of demand that overwhelms the supply of affordable housing."
The study's authors said that county agencies need to collaborate better to target those who could become homeless.
"Ending chronic homelessness will be feasible if fewer people become homeless," Daniel Flaming, an author of the report, told the Daily News. "This requires the combined resources of health, mental health, social service, education, justice system and housing agencies to restore a place in the community for homeless individuals."
Gary Blasi, a professor emeritus at the UCLA School of Law, told the Los Angeles Times that he hopes the city actually follows through with new housing and services.
"If it is purely symbolic, that will be bad," he said. "But at least people are engaging in a conversation about how to solve the problem instead of just moving it around the city."
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