The city of LA has stepped up its efforts to provide housing and counseling to the homeless population that congregates at LA's public libraries.
As the NBC4 I-Team has reported in recent months, the homeless and untreated mentally ill gravitate to libraries to seek safe refuge from life on the streets, often driving away longtime patrons.
"This is an issue I care about deeply, not only as mayor but as a parent," Mayor Eric Garcetti told the NBC4 I-Team, while discussing new outreach efforts at libraries.
In response to NBC4's ongoing investigation, the mayor's office has outlined for the I-Team a four-point plan to help the homeless and to restore a safe environment to libraries. Among the measures now being implemented, the LAPD is sending its Mental Health Evaluation Unit (MEU) to libraries to link the mentally ill with much needed counseling services.
Some branches of the LA Public Library are also expanding their "Source" program, which holds monthly events at neighborhood branches to link the homeless with various social services, including emergency housing programs, drug and mental health treatment, and emergency relief. At Durant Library this past week, a record number of people lined up for hours to attend the Source event.
Head Librarian John Frank says his branch got an infusion of public money to expand this event, after the I-Team's reports.
"The reports raised awareness of the plight of the different populations in the library, and they’ve inspired some people to help us out and give us a little more money," said Frank. "It's made a big difference."