LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – In his annual state of the city address Monday night, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed a budgetary plan in the next fiscal year that would see nearly $1 billion go towards battling the ongoing homeless crisis.
FILE — A homeless encampment is seen along a freeway in the Hollywood area on Nov. 23, 2020. (Getty Images)
During his address, Garcetti noted that the city spent a mere $10 million on homelessness when he became mayor in 2013.
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“There’s real hope on the horizon in our fight against homelessness, but our justice budget won’t wait for the cavalry to arrive,” Garcetti said. “We are putting our money where our heart is.”
Garcetti’s budget recommendation for the upcoming 2021-22 fiscal year includes $791 million in new money to take on homelessness, with another $160 million of unspent money from the last fiscal year, leading to a grand total of $951 million, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
Also Monday, L.A. County’s chief executive officer unveiled her recommended 2021-22 budget, which would allocate $426.7 million towards fighting homelessness. That budget will go before the L.A. County Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
The urgency of addressing the Southland’s homeless crisis has been heightened by the struggles brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. On social media, people are posting videos of confrontations in and around encampments throughout the city, including in Venice where the unhoused population appears to be growing.
“The mayor’s a brilliant orator,” Rev. Andy Bales, CEO of Union Rescue Mission, said. “He covered a lot of subjects, but I felt the time on homelessness was not sufficient for the level of disaster that we’re in.”
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Bales said the mayor might have good intentions, but that the current strategy was just not working. He said the city should be buying up land and trailers or tiny homes — solutions that are more economically viable and take less time to put in place.
“We have to move away from this slow-to-develop, very expensive units,” Bales said. “This plan to spend a huge amount of money per person is going to cause thousands upon thousands of people to die on the streets. And, in these very expensive units, alcohol and drugs have been flowing freely and, in my opinion, we need to move back to a more recovery model.”
In late March, dozens of people were arrested during protests against the removal of a large-scale homeless encampment at Echo Park Lake and the park’s indefinite closure to clean up an estimated $500,000 in damage.
Last week, residents in Reseda expressed their anger over a community of about 50 tiny homes which are being built in their neighborhood to house the homeless.
Earlier this month, an L.A. city councilman asked the city to examine whether it can install temporary housing for the homeless in several coastal communities, including Pacific Palisades and Venice. Nearly 15,000 people have signed a petition opposing the idea.
The 2020 Greater L.A. Homeless Count — which was conducted last January, prior to the pandemic — recorded 66,433 people living on the streets of L.A. County, a staggering 12.7% increase from the year before.