For decades, the rising cost of housing and lack of funding for supportive services have left the most vulnerable citizens and families of LA County without shelter, jobs, or mental health services. With the Great Recession of 2008 and the housing crisis of today crippling those already in poverty, last year we saw more people living on the streets than ever before.
Throughout our district, the effects of homelessness can be seen all around us, all it takes is walking to the park, driving onto the freeway, or even peering out over the LA River to see tents, RVs, and makeshift shelters. Residential areas, businesses, and open spaces have been inundated with people who have no place to go. Clean ups are not permanent solutions, as encampments either return or simply shift the burden onto a new neighborhood. This situation often feels dire and insurmountable, but it has also pushed us to ask, “What more can we do?”
As your Assemblymember, I have looked for smarter and safer solutions in Sacramento, while collaborating with County and City government. We have come together with voters to fund long-term and short-term solutions that can get the homeless off our streets and back on their feet.
I am just as frustrated as you, but our efforts are turning the tide against our homelessness crisis. As of May 2018:
- More than 18,000 homeless were placed in housing last year, a year-over-year boost of almost 30%;
- Veteran homelessness was down 18%; and
- We have a 16% decrease of the chronically homeless.
Just this month, Governor Brown and the Legislature agreed on an additional $500 million dollars in funding for emergency aid for local governments to respond to homelessness. This is in addition to our 2017 State Housing Package that included more than $100 million for programs to help the homeless, which will roll out at the end of 2018.
In the meantime, California’s cap-and-trade program, with 20% of profits reserved for affordable development near transit stops, has also helped. To date, $443 million has been used to fund 58 developments and created 4,500 new affordable homes across California, with $97 million in funding awarded to projects in Los Angeles. These funds have helped create over 1,270 affordable units for individuals and families in need.
I also commend LA County voters for overwhelmingly passing Proposition HHH in 2016 and Measure H in 2017, ensuring we will have funding for housing and services for the next decade. During the first year of Measure H allocation, LA County spent approximately $200 million on homeless services, with $8 million toward homeless prevention for individuals and families; $68 million toward subsidized housing; $9 million toward income assistance; $24 million toward case management and services; and $90.6 million toward creating the coordinated entry system.
Proposition HHH is providing critical services to the homeless, building needed housing, and creating jobs. In just the first six months of Proposition HHH implementation in July 2017:
- Outreach teams contacted more than 4,000 individuals experiencing homelessness;
- More than 3,300 homeless families and adults were placed in permanent housing; and
- More than 7,000 participants entered crisis, bridge, and/or interim housing.
We are also getting great help from the city, as Mayor Garcetti’s 2018 budget calls for over $440 million to be put toward homelessness this coming fiscal year, while the LA City Council plans to propose $17 million in new funding that would add nine new HOPE crews on top of the current 11 that do direct outreach to the homeless; helping them off our street and on their feet.
Each day we are getting more homeless the help they need. A crisis of this proportion cannot be solved overnight, so I humbly ask for your patience and support as we continue to push forward to end homelessness in Los Angeles.