Los Angeles

A Lot of Money Was Doled Out for Homeless Services Projects in LA — Probably More Than You Expected

"This is not even beginning to scratch at the surface,'' councilman Huizar said.

The Los Angeles City Council doled out millions of dollars Friday for various homeless services projects, including a temporary bridge housing facility in San Pedro and improved access to restrooms and showers for people living on Skid Row.

The council voted unanimously to allocate roughly $2.7 million toward Skid Row-area services, while also routing $7.1 million toward the A Bridge Home housing site at 515 N. Beacon St. in San Pedro and $13.1 million to cover increased costs of other temporary housing facilities across the city.

For Skid Row, the council allocated $2.7 million in state Homeless Emergency Aid Program funds to provide expanded access to showers and restrooms at St. Vincent de Paul and The People Concern facilities; improvements at The Bin storage-space facility; deployment of two more Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Homeless Engagement Teams; addition of at least five drinking fountains located with attended public toilets; and collection boxes aimed at reducing improper disposal of hazardous materials.

City Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district includes parts of the downtown area and Skid Row, introduced a motion Friday calling for another $2.8 million allocation of state grant funds for bathrooms, water stations and storage facilities in the Skid Row area.

"During the day, we have about 4,000 to 5,000 people walking around Skid Row, looking for services," Huizar said. "At nighttime, 2,000 people live on the streets in Skid Row. You can't find that anywhere else in the country but here in Los Angeles. For too many years, we've not had the urgency that we should apply to Skid Row and address this humanitarian crisis."

Last year, Huizar requested that $20 million in the state grant funds be allocated to Skid Row, out of the overall $85 million the city received.

Before Friday's vote, the city had allocated about $5.6 million of that funding for Skid Row, according to the city. In January, about $1.3 million of that allocation was approved for a three-year lease, services and 119 beds for the bridge housing site at Paloma Street, as well as $350,000 for an overnight shelter at the Downtown Women's Center.

If the council approves Huizar's latest request for another $2.8 million, it will raise the overall amount allocated to Skid Row to about $11 million, with about $9 million more expected to be designated in the coming months. Huizar said he hopes to get an additional $20 million in state funding for Skid Row support and service programs.

"This is not even beginning to scratch at the surface,'' he said. "We need a lot more support. This city needs to allocate the additional funding immediately and put the infrastructure in place to be able to put that money to action."

Another motion introduced by Huizar Friday called for the relocation of an already operating shower facility to Skid Row. He introduced a motion earlier this week asking the city to work with LAHSA to consider establishing another bridge housing site near St. Barnabas Episcopal Church at 2109 Chickasaw Ave.

Homelessness in Los Angeles County spiked by 12 percent over the past year to reach an estimated 58,936 people, according to figures released June 4. 

Click here to see the results of the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, which ties the increase to the region's housing costs outpacing wages and forcing people onto the streets faster than authorities can find them shelter.

According to figures released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, nearly three-quarters of homeless people are living in cars, tents, makeshift shelters or on the streets without any apparent cover from the elements.

See the latest in NBCLA's coverage here into the homelessness crisis in Southern California. 

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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