Despite having one of the worst problems with homelessness in the world, Los Angeles has not seen initiatives big enough to bring significant change.
That could change soon though, if a group of California state senators has its way and is able to pass a proposal that will dedicate $2 billion to building or fixing up permanent housing for the mentally ill homeless. If this proposal is approved, along with some additional requested funding to help get the program started, it will be a boon for those in the state who are in a position least able to pick themselves up. The bill is, unequivocally, a good thing and should be passed in the legislature.
Last September, when the Los Angeles County announced a plan to provide $100 million in emergency funding for homelessness, the Daily Bruin Editorial Board suggested that the funds simply weren’t enough to make the impact Los Angeles needs. As it stands, Los Angeles has the highest number of chronically homeless people in the country.
These funds are exactly what was needed. While they surely won’t end all homelessness in the state, they will bring a big enough increase in the budget that real progress will be made.
Most importantly, the funds in the proposal will be put to good use, because they are specifically for the thing homeless people need the most: housing.
The most successful programs to end homelessness around the country have almost exclusively focused on building more housing to provide for those in need. Though many fear that giving housing to people without strict conditions will lead to abuse, no past program has shown this to be a major problem.
A Housing First model with a big enough fund is the best thing that can happen for the homeless population of California and the state as a whole.
That’s also not the only thing homeless rights advocates have to look forward to. The L.A. city plan currently has a proposal for $1.85 billion worth of funding to be spent over 10 years, on top of the $100 million already planned for by Mayor Eric Garcetti.
If both of these proposals become law, things could look much better for the state in the coming decade.
All that’s left now is to make sure that happens, and for that, there will need to be public support.
There’s no question that projects like these are easier said than done, and much work will be needed to ensure that the programs pass without creating major deficits. But what we need now more than ever is to make sure we find a way to make them happen.
As long as complexity is used as an excuse to avoid providing help for those in need, tens of thousands of people will continue to suffer.
Now that proposals are on the table, it’s time for us to hold our politicians accountable for following through.