Saturday, February 16

LA city approves $1.85B plan to address homelessness

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a $1.85 billion plan Tuesday that aims to ensure long-term housing for homeless individuals, among other improvements.

A city council committee released the Comprehensive Homeless Strategy in November, which listed several recommendations that aimed to combat homelessness throughout Los Angeles. The 10-year plan calls for city officials to create a better transition between temporary and long-term housing and to make more apartments affordable by decreasing rents citywide.

Volunteers in Westwood counted 30 homeless individuals this year, 10 more than last year, during the annual countywide homeless population count. Andrew Thomas, executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association, also known as the BID, said about 12 of these individuals are homeless individuals who have lived in the Village for several years.

This year, volunteers counted 10 fewer homeless individuals in UCLA and the North Village. Thomas said he doesn’t think Westwood Village’s homelessness problem is as severe as other L.A. neighborhoods’, but expects the Village and the BID will have access to additional resources through the plan.

The plan also recommends hiring a Homelessness Coordinator and creating a Homeless Strategy Committee that would work with homeless individuals and city officials to help homeless individuals transition into permanent housing.

The council will also adopt the “housing first” approach, which would focus on housing homeless individuals before treating them for drug or mental health issues.

Jose Huizar, an L.A. City Council member who led the committee that drafted the plan, said at the Tuesday meeting he thinks the plan offers a long-term solution for homelessness and tackles the problem from a different perspective.

Huizar said the city is turning from reactive to proactive by moving away from relying on police to remove homeless individuals from the streets and by increasing outreach efforts to homeless individuals.

“It’s going to build a new institutional knowledge that the city lacks,” Huizar added.

Zev Yaroslavsky, a former L.A. City Council member, said he thinks the city has created a solid plan that can deal with the homelessness problem, but should now focus on executing it.

“The commitment needs to be to the permanent support of housing,” Yaroslavsky said. “The solution to the homeless problem is housing first, and additional services afterwards.”

Huizar said at the meeting the city council will commit to spending $100 million of the suggested $1.85 billion total to help homeless individuals this year, but have not yet announced which initiatives they will launch first.

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