Friday, January 8, 2016

LA Times: What L.A. leaders are saying about the city's new homeless plan

A new report from city budget analysts, released late Thursday, says the city of Los Angeles should spend at least $1.85 billion over the next decade to combat homelessness, including expanded spending on permanent housing.

It marks L.A.’s first comprehensive plan to tackle the crisis in years, announced at the same time that the county unveiled its own strategies.

To drum up money for the plan, the report suggests dozens of options, including seeking state or federal grants, as well as asking voters to approve a bond or tax increase. Here is what elected officials, community activists and others are saying about the plan:

City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents Venice and other parts of the Westside: "The thing I think works best about this package -- it does not put all its eggs in one basket. There has to be multiple strategies because there's multiple different kinds of homelessness. ... And we've got to get serious about funding it." Bonin added that if a bond or tax is needed, "I'm willing to go to the voters to ask for this. This is the No. 1  issue I hear about from all over my district."
Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Assn.: "I see nothing in the report in the way of immediate relief for the 1,000 or so transients along Venice Beach and at Third and Rose or for the nearby residents who are victimized by the presence of encampments next to their homes."

City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents parts of South Los Angeles and co-chairs the Homelessness and Poverty Committee: "I think the strategy is a sound one." However, he added, "I do not think we were as thorough about the total cost in dollars, about actually solving the problem, as we could have been." The $1.85 billion would "pull us back from the crisis ... but I wouldn’t want people to support an investment and then expect that they will never see a homeless prson. That’s not what's before us at this moment."

Mayor Eric Garcetti: "The Homelessness Strategy Report gives us the blueprint we need to take swift action, and its recommendations will help us allocate funding to solve this critical issue over the next decade. It incorporates the three pillars of my homelessness strategy: scaling up the Coordinated Entry System; preventing people at risk for homelessness from landing on the streets; and balancing health and safety concerns with the rights and needs of people who are living in unacceptable conditions."

Gary Blasi, attorney with Public Counsel Law Center's Opportunity Under Law project: "I respect the people who put this plan together. But this is not a plan to end homelessness, but rather a plan to continue to manage how we tolerate it. It demonstrates the gap between rhetoric and reality and the long-term failure of political will in the city to do more than manage perceptions of mass homelessness. What is potentially real in this plan might make life a little less miserable for those on the streets. ... The estimate of $1.85 billion over 10 years will produce sticker shock, but $185 million per year is a tiny fraction of the L.A. city budget, equal to about 13 cents per city resident per day."

Elise Buik, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles: "Housing our homeless neighbors saves lives and money, but we need to invest in new and dedicated sources of funding to help accelerate and maximize the solutions that are working. We hope our elected officials will continue to look at the larger calls to action that the strategies propose and not end with short-term, one-time fixes. We need the political and public will to assess permanent solutions and make the necessary investments."