April 30, 2015


City News Service




A city panel on homelessness formed this week by the Los Angeles City Council is to explore ways the city could build more housing for the homeless. The Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness will take up three motions introduced by Councilman Mike Bonin that suggest there is not enough housing for the homeless in the city, resulting in numerous sidewalk encampments. Bonin, who will serve as vice-chair of the panel, called for the city to redirect its spending on homelessness toward building more housing for the homeless.


One of the motions notes that a 2006 court ruling prevents the city from banning people from sleeping on sidewalks if they do not have anywhere else to go, but a subsequent settlement agreement requires that the city build only 1,250 units of new housing for the homeless, with at least 50 percent in the Skid Row area or downtown Los Angeles.


“The settlement has served the interests of no one, and its consequences have been sever,” Bonin said, because it still leaves the homeless with not enough housing.


Bonin represents the Venice area, where he said 70 percent of calls to the fire station there are to treat or transport chronically homeless people. Despite the high demand for housing for the homeless in Venice and the rest of the Westside, the closest housing with services for the homeless is located in Torrance, he said. City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana released a report earlier this month that found the city has no focused plan to address issues affecting the city’s 23,000 homeless people, despite spending more than $100 million each year on the issue.


Bonin called the report a “wake-up call,” and said the city is essentially “wasting $100 million a year” by working without a plan. The newly created committee will be chaired by Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district includes Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, considered to have the highest concentration of homeless people in the city.


The panel will look at ways to streamline the city's response to homelessness and better coordinate with the Los Angeles County and other organizations that offer services to the homeless. Huizar said the existing policy “has clearly failed us,” with the city preoccupied in recent years with reacting to litigation over issues around homelessness.

Category: Community