When I was growing up on the Westside of LA, I rarely ever saw a homeless person. It was not part of my daily life. But today is different. People without a place to call home can be found in nearly every neighborhood in LA, from Westwood to Fairfax, Palms, and the Valley. No neighborhood is free from encampments – and we all know their locations and the impact they have on our neighborhoods. Nearly 48,000 people live on the streets of LA every night – and the number has gone up by dizzying percentages in the past four years. Nearly 3,000 veterans are homeless. Affordable housing and shelters are in short supply and unsafe. Preventing a person from becoming homeless is too often an after-thought. Homelessness isn’t just a problem, it’s a crisis.
We must end the City’s homelessness crisis and make our streets and sidewalks safe and clean again. All of us deserve a decent and stable place to call home, but too many of our city’s residents do not have one.
As an advocate for homeless veterans, I have shown real results:
- I worked with a broad coalition of community members in a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to help the federal government achieve its goal of ending veteran homelessness.
- We are working to bring a state-of-the-art veteran community at the 388-acre West LA VA campus on Wilshire and Sepulveda. Countless of Neighborhood Councils have endorsed the VA's master plan that we worked together to develop.
- We cut through red tape at the VA, one of the largest and most challenging bureaucracies our country has ever seen, and delivered real results.
As your councilman, I would make sure that the City applies the best long term solutions, with a focus on permanent supportive housing that is given to people as quickly as possible and with no strings attached. This “Housing First” approach is not only the most compassionate solution, but also the most cost-effective. This approach saved Denver $31,545 in emergency services alone per person over a two-year period. The savings would be higher if the savings in police resources were counted too.
- Make reducing homelessness a top priority, both within our district and across the City.
- Know the number of homeless people at any given time. Right now, the City does an annual homeless count to determine the number of homeless living in the City. We should have a system that keeps track of the number and names of the homeless people to know the magnitude of the problem and to measure success.
- Focus on strategies to prevent homelessness, including programs that help people at risk of homelessness avoid losing their homes. For every homeless person, there are ten at risk of becoming homeless.
- Partner with the federal government, state and local governments, the business community, and philanthropy to make our investments and programs work better.
- Focus on opportunities to add permanent supportive housing, affordable housing, and short-term housing solutions. We need to use surplus city land for affordable housing and supportive housing and encourage safe, secure, and clean places for the homeless to sleep overnight. Right now, we are experiencing encampment sprawl, and vehicles and RVs where homeless people sleep are taking up street parking near our homes.
- Spend your taxpayer dollars wisely by setting up an independent housing agency headed by a “homeless czar” that coordinates government programs and private investments in the region and cuts through red tape.