A proposal to spend $20 million on temporary shelters for the homeless throughout Los Angeles has its first potential location, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday.
Garcetti joined Council President Herb Wesson at 682 S. Vermont Ave. in Koreatown, which they said will be the site of the first in a network of projects to add trailers, tents, showers, restrooms, storage facilities and other resources in the fight against homelessness.
"The homelessness crisis demands that we step forward and act boldly to get people off the streets as quickly as possible,'' Garcetti said. "Council President Wesson's leadership means that men and women living on the streets today will soon be able to take tents down and start building themselves up."
Garcetti outlined his plan to install the shelters and other resources around the city during his State of the City address last month. The $20 million for the "A Bridge Home" initiative is included in his proposed 2018-19 budget.
The Koreatown shelter would be located in a parking lot in Wesson's district.
"These shelters will serve as beacons of hope for Angelenos looking to transition out of homelessness," Wesson said. "When it comes to ending this crisis, actions speak louder than words."
The Bridge Home initiative is part of a large spike in Garcetti's proposed spending for the homeless, up from $178 million in the current fiscal year to more than $429 million. More than half of the new homeless spending would use funds from Measure HHH, a bond measure that Garcetti helped convince city voters to approve in 2016 and which is expected to raise $1.2 billion over 10 years for permanent supportive housing construction.
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Garcetti's proposal would split the $20 million up evenly per district, to $1.3 million each, but if any funds were not allocated by Jan. 1, 2019, any City Council member could use them for his or her district. Coupled with the money for emergency shelters is $17 million in additional funding for crews that clean up homeless encampments, and any district that welcomed an emergency shelter would see increased levels of encampment cleanup efforts, Garcetti said.
The temporary shelters would have a shelf life of about three years, which Garcetti has said should be enough time for the city to construct enough supportive housing funded by Measure HHH. The city saw a rise in homelessness last year by 20 percent, or about 34,000 people.
Before his State of the City speech, Garcetti had not previously called for the installation of emergency shelters on a wide scale. And even though it represents a significant new approach for the mayor and other city leaders, some have said $20 million is not enough.
Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the Skid Row area where an estimated 2,000 people sleep on the streets, has called for enough emergency trailers to be installed in the neighborhood to meet the need for the areas entire Skid Row population. He estimates that trailers just for Skid Row will cost $20 million, and told the Budget and Finance Committee on Tuesday that more funding is needed.
"We need to see if we can have more funding for this so that we do it throughout the city where it's necessary, but at the same time focus on the epicenter of Skid Row where we continue to say that those are some inhumane conditions that we shall not allow," Huizar said.
The idea to use temporary trailers or tents to help get people off the streets has been led on the council by Huizar, who convinced his colleagues earlier this year to approve the installation of five trailers near the El Pueblo Historical Monument.