Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday that the city has received its full disbursement of $85 million in state funds for various homeless initiatives, and plans to dedicate at least $20 million just for the Skid Row area where an estimated 2,000 people sleep on the streets.
The previously approved, one-time Homeless Emergency Assistance Program dollars come from a state budget surplus, along with an additional $81 million awarded to the Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority, which administers homeless programs in the county.
"Twenty million (dollars) alone for Skid Row is going to be a huge infusion, together where the county money has been increased," Garcetti said during a news conference at City Hall, adding that he supported the county having a mental health worker on every block in Skid Row.
"Clearly, we have an opportunity to blanket it," he added.
Garcetti said much of the money will go to bolster his "A Bridge Home" temporary shelter program, which already has $20 million in direct budget money dedicated to it this fiscal year and another $10 million that can potentially be tapped.
Of the newly received funds, Garcetti said $45 million will go toward Bridge Home; $11.5 million will be used to support homeless prevention and diversion programs, general services and hygiene services; $4.25 million will be earmarked programs for homeless youth; and $4.25 is dedicated to administrative costs.
The $20 million for the Skid Row area will also go toward Bridge Home, but also for storage, hygiene programs, and reentry services for former prison inmates.
Garcetti also said some of the funds would go toward helping build Bridge Home shelters already approved for construction in Hollywood and at the Veterans Administration campus in West Los Angeles.
The VA facility plans to provide transitional housing beds for up to 100 homeless veterans, along with laundry facilities, personal hygiene centers, 24-hour security and supportive services. Under a partnership, the city and county of Los Angeles will split the cost of the construction of the $5 million facility, and the Department of Veterans Affairs will provide on-site services.
"Homeless veterans sleeping on the streets of Los Angeles will soon have a safe and clean place to stay, thanks to our partnership with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and because of this funding," said Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the 11th Council District. "I am very excited that the first bridge housing facility on the Westside will move forward quickly, and that could not have happened without this funding from the state."
The "Bridge Home" program was first announced by Garcetti during his State of the City speech in April as a new front in the fight against homelessness, which has grown by about 75 percent over the last six years. The 2018 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found that more than 31,000 people are homeless in the city, including more than 23,000 living without shelter, which were both slight drops from the previous year.
The shelters are intended as a temporary solution to the problem while the city builds thousands of permanent supportive units approved in 2016 by city voters through Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure. The temporary shelters will help transition homeless people off the street and into permanent housing, along with providing them access to supportive services, including addiction counseling, Garcetti and other leaders have said.