Los Angeles

Mayor of LA Promises More Help to Solve Homelessness Problem

More outreach personnel will soon be deployed and additional services will be offered in an effort to assist the city's homeless population, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday.

The increases are coming to CARE and CARE-plus teams that conduct cleanups and offer services to link homeless people with temporary shelter and eventually permanent supportive housing.

"Every time I go out with these dedicated public servants and see their encounters with our homeless neighbors, I'm reminded of a simple truth that drives this work: Every un-housed Angeleno deserves the help that they need to get off the streets,'' Garcetti said.

Garcetti discussed the coming enhancements during a monthly update on homelessness in Los Angeles.

A pilot program is already underway for the CARE teams, which in July made 70 visits to homeless encampments, removed 8.45 tons of trash from encampment areas and referred 25 people to emergency shelters, Garcetti said.

The mayor said when the teams are deployed to all City Council districts this fall, those numbers will increase significantly. The city approved funding for the programs this summer, with a focus on Skid Row, after the county released the number of homeless people living in Los Angeles, which increased by 16% from the previous year to top 36,000.

Garcetti said CIty Controller Ron Galperin plans to release a report this week that will make recommendations on how to "increase the effectiveness'' of the cleanup and outreach teams.

The plan will increase the number of city sanitation teams from 20 to 30, creating 47 sanitation jobs. The program is also expected to include training of some homeless people who will be paid for taking part in cleanup efforts.

In June, facing criticism for the sharp increase in homelessness, Garcetti defended the work being done by the city to address the problem while he also took "full responsibility'' for the city's response to the issue.

It may take longer than expected to get people from shelters to permanent housing, Garcetti said. It could take eight months to a year rather than four to six months, as was the initial goal with the mayor's A Bridge Home program.

"I think that it'll be a slower pace than what we expected,'' Garcetti said, adding that it's not the fault of the shelter or the homeless people. "It's that backlog on apartments.''

There are currently five Bridge shelters, but 26 are expected to open citywide within the next year, the mayor said.

Garcetti said he supports passing a statewide rent-control law and other measures to help prevent people from being evicted and falling into homelessness. The city is putting together a legal assistance program for people facing eviction.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last week announced that Southern California alone will likely need 1.3 million more housing units within the next six years in order to keep pace with housing people.

"To our landlords that are out there, get with us, we will make you rich and we will help you not have to (contact) your Section 8 tenants to ask them for the rent,'' Garcetti said. "Once you're on Section 8, you get it every month. It's the best thing you can do for your business.''

A city oversight committee last week approved the latest round of Proposition HHH-funded projects -- a total of more than $351 million that is to be used for constructing housing. Of that, $120 million was committed to a bidding process in which applicants design housing that could be built within the next two years, providing about 1,000 affordable units.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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