L.A. homeless crisis grows despite political promises, many speeches and millions of dollars. How do we fix this?

Posted on January 31, 2018 at 9:33 pm

Without A Home

They’re part of the Los Angeles streetscape, as familiar as the swaying palm trees and idling traffic, living under freeways, alongside riverbeds and on canyon hillsides. The mentally ill, the drug addicts, the economically disadvantaged, many with their life belongings in a backpack or shopping cart. Here, The Times launches Without a Home, a special endeavor to examine a crisis of homelessness in our region. It is a challenge for each and every one of us. Citizens voted twice to open their wallets to fund a solution. Now, city leaders and others must act to improve the plight of some 58,000 of the county’s most vulnerable residents.


So here is my question — a question that taxpayers, merchants, sympathetic observers, disillusioned critics and the homeless themselves have every right to ask:

When, if ever, will the situation get better?

“We can bring these numbers down,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcettisaid in 2016, when the county’s homeless number rose to 47,000, with 28,000 in the city alone. “This could be the year that we bring the numbers down.”

Can and could.

But didn’t.

Here we are now in 2018, hopes dashed, and this could be the year Garcetti’s presidential pipe dream ruptures under a shantytown in the homeless capital of the United States.

Garcetti said he doesn’t see failure; he sees progress and hope.

“There’s never been a point,” said Ridley-Thomas, “where I’ve seen more energy, more focus and more resources aimed at this crisis, and it is a crisis.”

For all that, Ridley-Thomas said, local officials got a late start.

“The real problem is that we were not proactive enough in the face of what might very well be described as an onslaught,” the supervisor said. “We just didn’t make it the kind of priority it needed to be.”

But that isn’t the only problem.

For all the progress that’s being made, some frustrated homeless advocates still see a disjointed silo system, with various city and county agencies forging ahead independently, with no unifying structure or clear leadership. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people in the system groan about the confounding difficulty of getting simple things done, thanks to jurisdictional boundaries and bureaucratic impediments.

Taxpayers have stepped up, and have a right to expect more progress. City residents approved Proposition HHH in 2016 to generate $1.2 billion for new housing over 10 years. A few months later, county voters approved Measure H, which will produce about $350 million of services each year.

But this brings us back to the central question of when and whether we’ll see any progress or be lucky to maintain status quo. After all, it’s not as if the number of homeless people is finite, especially not in a region where housing costs have soared and gentrification has unsettled one neighborhood after another, pushing more people into their cars and onto the streets.

On skid row, I asked a social worker if numbers are up.

Yes, he said.

And what’s the biggest reason?

“Evictions,” he said.

“HHH contemplated building 10,000 units over 10 years,” said Philip Mangano, former homeless czar for President George W. Bush and chief executive of the American Round Table to Abolish Homelessness. “That’s 1,000 units a year, but we know from data that you have way more than 1,000 people coming through the front door. So you’re not even bailing a leaking boat.”

This is an excerpt from this Los Angeles Times Article, click to read the full write up: L.A. homeless crisis grows despite political promises, many speeches and millions of dollars. How do we fix this?