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article imageHomeless crisis in L.A. — City will declare state of emergency

By Karen Graham     Sep 23, 2015 in World
Los Angeles - On Tuesday, after acknowledging their failure in stemming the surge of homelessness in the city, municipal officials in Los Angeles, California took the drastic step of announcing they were declaring a "state of emergency."
In Los Angeles, the homeless are everywhere. From encampments in freeway underpasses, to the high-value streets of Venice, they live in clusters of tents, or under tarpaulins spread over shopping carts, in parking lots and neighborhoods from downtown's skid row to Studio City and beyond — this is where the homeless live.
The announcement from Mayor Eric Garcetti and seven members of the City Council was powerful in that it resonated loudly in a city that has seen an 85 percent increase in the homeless in just two years. Besides opting to declare a state of emergency over the crisis, the Mayor also wants to "free up" $100 million to devote to the problem.
Los Angeles  homeless residents often struggle with chronic physical and mental illnesses -- health ...
Los Angeles' homeless residents often struggle with chronic physical and mental illnesses -- health crises made worse by life on the streets.
PBS Newshour
The announcement comes after the mayor's directive made Monday evening that the city free up an additional $13 million over the next few months to help those people living in the streets. Fox News reported the mayor said, "These are our fellow Angelinos. They are those who have no other place to go, and they are literally here where we work, a symbol of our city's intense crisis."
Councilman Jose Huizar, who co-chairs the City Council's homelessness & poverty committee told Fox News that six blocks away from City Hall is the largest concentration of homeless people in the country. "There are about 4,000 of them living in Skid Row," he said.
"Unfortunately, that is just a small percentage of the city's homeless population," he continued. "Yes, 85 percent of the city's homeless population lives outside of Skid Row, throughout the city."
Crisis has become a "matter of life and death"
Councilman Mike Bonin was quoted by the LA Times: “It’s time to get real, because this is literally a matter of life and death." He spoke of the failure at every government level in dealing with a homeless problem that has been going on for years. He added, now it had grown into an explosive issue.
But not all is well with the Mayor's plan. Some lawmakers are wondering just where in the city's coffers he expects to find the money. Added to the concerns over funding is the fact that the mayor has yet to release his "sweeping plan," first announced by Garcetti over two months ago, and now, is two weeks overdue.
“This is all simply words,” said Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Assn., which has argued for a more aggressive approach to clearing encampments and housing the homeless. “Again, it shows an ongoing lack of leadership on behalf of the city," reported the LA Times.
Los Angeles is not far behind New York City in its numbers of homeless.
Los Angeles is not far behind New York City in its numbers of homeless.
PBS Newshour
The announcement also comes after an ordinance was passed by City Council in May, authorizing police to remove homeless encampments from the sidewalks in the city. The mayor wants people to know that despite the ordinance, the city is willing to to devote resources to housing as well as other services to the homeless.
Homelessness is not an issue just in Los Angeles or New York City. It is an issue seen in most American cities across the country, as well as in other nations. New York City's 60,000 homeless number just a little above the 59,000 of the homeless in Los Angeles. We need to look deeper, into how the homeless crisis is handled, and not just look at the numbers.
Housing in today's economy is the biggest roadblock to getting off the streets for many families. Affordable housing is needed, and this will be the most difficult issue to overcome. Actually, some lawmakers have already voiced concerns over the amount of money the mayor wants to devote to the projected plan. They say the city need billions, and that is a lot more than $100 million.
More about homelessness in la, Los angeles, state of emergency, 100 million dollars, Housing
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