On Thursday morning LA Sheriffs arrived at an apartment building on Cahuenga in Hollywood to serve an eviction notice. Before they were able to enter the apartment, they heard a single gunshot from inside. Eventually they gained entry, and found an individual who had died from “an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
Earlier this year, the annual survey conducted by the LA Homeless Services Authority found there were 41,980 people experiencing homelessness in the City of LA (a 1.7% increase from 2020) and 69,144 people experiencing homelessness in LA County (a 4.1% rise from 2020). Apparent inaccuracies that have been found in the survey have led many people to believe that the actual numbers are far higher.
In their 2020 report on vacancy in Los Angeles, SAJE, ACCE and UCLA Law found that the City was producing far more expensive units than affordable ones, leading to excessive vacancies at the high end and a shortage of supply at the low end. (See page 5.)
“Simply put, new expensive housing remains disproportionately vacant, thereby failing to free up units for lower-income families. In addition to the intentional maintenance of overpriced units for rent or sale described above, the system of housing production in Los Angeles has created, on the one hand, a surplus supply of high-rent housing with elevated vacancy for new and higher-priced units, and on the other hand, a massive shortfall of low-cost housing that has contributed to the houselessness crisis.”
We don’t know much about the renter who took his life on Thursday, but it seems likely that, knowing he was about to be evicted from his home, he shot himself because he felt he had no place else to go.
How is that possible in a city where tens of thousands of units sit empty?
With the State continuing to enjoy a strong surge in revenue, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget includes substantial funds to address housing needs. Newsom wants to spend $2 billion on homelessness, and another $2 billion to address housing in general. Of course, there are those who say this still isn’t enough, and others who say Newsom’s priorities are wrong, but there are a lot of good things in his proposed budget. I’m not a Newsom fan, but I think that in some ways he’s on the right track. As usual, the devil is in the details.
One of the things Newsom wants to promote is urban infill development, in other words building dense residential housing where infrastructure already exits, as opposed to more suburban sprawl. This is nothing new. State and local politicians have been pushing this for years, and in theory it makes perfect sense. One of the main goals of this policy is to make people less reliant on cars, encouraging them to take transit instead, or to ride a bike or maybe even just walk. The overriding goal is to fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
So what do we do? Well, there is evidence suggesting that high-priced new development in urban centers is causing gentrification, which displaces low-income transit riders. I can tell you I’ve seen numerous instances in Hollywood where low-income tenants have been thrown out of their apartments to make way for new projects. We need to preserve existing housing that’s accessible to low-income households, and to build a lot more affordable housing. That’s why I’m glad that Newsom is setting aside $500 million for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, and another $500 million to preserve and increase affordable housing stock. Of course, much more money is needed, since the federal government has slashed funding for affordable housing over the last several years. But the money Newsom is providing is a step in the right direction. In LA, the vast majority of transit riders live in low-income households. We need to help them remain near the transit hubs they rely on.
Another smart move Newsom has made is to earmark $100 million to support the conversion of office buildings to apartments. This makes a lot of sense, not just because more people are working from home these days, but because it helps minimize the significant environmental impacts caused both by the demolition of old buildings and the construction of new ones. As many people have said, the greenest building is the one that’s already standing.
The funding Newsom has proposed will not solve our housing problems, but it will help. That is, assuming the legislature supports his budget. This article from CalMatters offers a more detailed breakdown.
The conflict over the homeless encampment at Echo Park Lake seems to be over. For now. After months of growing tension, things came to a head this week when the City of LA announced that it planned to close the park and that all persons living on the premises had to leave. Protests began on Wednesday morning. Later that day city workers showed up and began erecting a fence, while the LAPD announced that those remaining inside the park would be cited. Representatives of the LA Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) offered temporary housing for those who wanted it, and while there were many takers, some declined.
After a couple of chaotic days, the LAPD announced on Thursday night that anyone remaining in the park would be subject to arrest. Apparently by Friday the park was closed and all those who had been living there were gone.
Of course, this is just the latest episode in the ongoing story of housing and homelessness in LA. Nothing has been resolved, and really there’s no reason to think anything will be resolved any time in the near future. The forces that are driving LA’s homeless epidemic are still at work, and the LA City Council is doing nothing meaningful to change the situation. A renter relief program and a temporary eviction moratorium are just band aids on a gaping wound. As long as the City Council continues to prioritize the wishes of real estate investors over the needs of LA’s renters, things will just keep getting worse.
As an LA Times editorial pointed out earlier this week, while LAHSA’s stats show that in 2019 an average of 207 homeless people were housed each day, the daily average of people who become newly homeless was 227. There are a lot of different factors that lead to people living on the street, but the biggest factor is that they can’t afford housing.
While Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council constantly tell us that their number one priority is providing housing for the people of LA, the facts tell us something completely different. According to the LA Department of City Planning’s Housing Dashboard, from July 2013 through December 2020 the City approved 162,706 new units. Of those units, 87% were for Above Moderate Income households. The remaining 13% is the total for Moderate Income, Low Income and Very Low Income households COMBINED. During this period, the City of LA has produced more than double the number of Above Moderate Income units required by the State’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). It has not come anywhere near meeting the goals for the other three RHNA categories.
And let’s take this further. The Housing Dashboard says that the total number of affordable units approved during this period was 20,591. But according to the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (which gets its data from the City of LA), during roughly this same period, January 2014 through December 2020, 9,444 rent-stabilized (RSO) units were removed from the market under the Ellis Act. This leaves us with a net gain of 11,147 units accessible to Moderate and Low Income households.
Right about now some of you may be saying, “Well, if we just ramp up allowable density the free market will solve our housing problem for us. We need to upzone LA.” My response is, take a look at New York City. New York City has been on an upzoning binge for the past decade. What have they got to show for it? A bunch of super-tall skyscrapers that have created a massive glut on the luxury housing market, while the Coalition for the Homeless reports that in 2020 there were 122,926 different homeless men, women, and children who slept in New York City’s shelters.
Getting back to Echo Park Lake, about the only positive thing I can say is that there was some really good reporting by the local press. I was impressed by Elizabeth Chou’s work for the Daily News, and I’d like to link to the story, but it’s restricted by a paywall. LAist also did a solid job. Actually, one of the best commentaries on this mess was in an e-mail I got from LAist, their Morning Brief written by Jessica P. Ogilvie. I couldn’t find it on their web site, so I’ll quote an excerpt….
The Echo Park tent community has found itself at the center of several heated debates over how to handle the city’s dire housing crisis. In January of 2020, a planned sweep of the encampment, which can lead to residents losing their belongings and being left with no place to go, was met by protesters who blocked city vehicles and stood near tents.
The following month, protesters once again joined residents to defend their right to be there.
Many who oppose officials’ plan to clear the area say that it’s a public relations maneuver, and blame the area’s city council representative, Mitch O’Farrell, for not doing more to ensure the safety of those living in the encampment.
Recently, officials and advocates have announced plans to ease the plight of L.A.’s unhoused residents by building community land trusts, making it easier to construct granny flats, and establishing communities of tiny homes.
But these efforts, while no doubt well-intentioned, are only the latest in an exhausting series of projects to get the problem under control. Some ideas have also included government-funded campsites, vacant hotel rooms, empty parking lots, neighborhood shelters, new legislation, emergency shelters, RV parks, prevention efforts, and more.
Mitch O’Farrell claims he cares about the homeless and wants everybody to have secure housing. But this is the same man who recently voted to approve the hotel project at 1719 Whitley which involves the demolition of 40 rent-stabilized units. And all the rest of his fellow Councilmembers, with the exception of David Ryu, joined him in voting to greenlight the project.
That should give you an idea of how much the LA City Council really cares about solving our housing problems.
I was on my way to the market when something caught my eye at the corner of Ivar and De Longpre. Actually, it was two things. The first was a massive new apartment building on Cahuenga, with a huge banner that exclaimed “NOW LEASING”. The second was a homeless encampment on Ivar. Seeing the pricey new apartments and the row of makeshift shelters so close together struck me as a perfect image of what’s happening in Hollywood these days, and really what’s happening across so much of LA. The City keeps telling us that building expensive new housing will alleviate the housing crisis, but upscale units like these are completely out of reach for the people who need housing most.
Part of what makes the scene so perfect is the banner shouting “NOW LEASING”. I have no idea how many of the units have been rented, and maybe it’s almost full, but I doubt it. A June 2020 report to the LA City Council from the Housing + Community Investment Department offers data on vacancy rates in various LA neighborhoods. While it uses multiple sources to assess vacancies, the report’s authors state that data from the LA Department of Water & Power is probably the most reliable. Does it surprise you that according to LADWP the vacancy rate in Hollywood is 10.7 percent? That’s 1,372 empty apartments in the Hollywood area, and I bet most of them are in new buildings like the one you see in the picture. You know, the ones where the rent for a single starts around $2,000.
Now, the US Census says that the average household size in LA County is 2.8 people. So if we multiply 1,372 units by 2.8 we find that you could house about 3,841 people in the apartments that are sitting vacant in Hollywood right now. Interestingly, the 2020 Los Angeles Homeless Count found that Council District 13, which covers much of Hollywood, has a total of 3,907 people experiencing homelessness. (A 22% jump over 2019.) In other words, you could fit almost all of the homeless people in CD 13 into the units that are sitting empty in Hollywood.
Of course, none of those homeless folks could afford $2,000 for a single. Let alone $3,000 or $4,000 for a one-bedroom or two-bedroom unit. But the LA City Council keeps telling us that if we just keep building housing, any kind of housing, even housing that the average Angeleno couldn’t possibly afford, it will help alleviate the housing crisis.
So they keep on approving high-end apartment complexes. And the homeless population keeps on growing larger.
Yesterday the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) released the results of the 2020 count of the homeless population in Los Angeles. Once again, he results are shocking. In 2020, a total of 66,433 people experienced homelessness in LA County, a 12.7% increase over last year. In the City of LA, the total was 41,290, a 14.2% increase. But it’s not just the overall numbers. Digging into the statistics is disturbing on so many levels….
Blacks make up about 8% of LA County’s population, but they make up 34% of the homeless population.
The number of homeless people over age 62 increased by 20%.
There was a 19% increase in homelessness among Transition Age Youth Households and Unaccompanied Minors, which includes both individuals 18-24 years of age and members of families headed by persons 18-24.
The press release highlights some of the positive work that LAHSA is doing, and I don’t doubt the agency is trying hard to address the problem. But it can’t. The real problem here is that housing is growing increasingly unaffordable, not just in LA but across the nation. Over the last several years real estate has become a huge draw for speculative investment. This isn’t just a local phenomenon, it’s a global one. The investors who have been buying up both single-family and multi-family housing in recent years have only one goal: To extract as much profit from their assets as quickly as possible. They have no interest in providing housing, and they don’t care how many people are homeless. (Unless, of course, those homeless people are camped out in front of their latest acquisition. Then they’re very concerned.) If you’re skeptical about these claims, I suggest you read Capital City by Samuel Stein. The author lays out the facts in horrifying detail.
But if you think the homeless numbers are bad now, brace yourself. It’s gonna get way worse. At the end of May, UCLA’s Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy released a report outlining the impacts the pandemic will have on housing. The report’s author, Gary Blasi, offers two estimates….
The most optimistic estimate is that 36,000 renter households, with 56,000 children based on U.S. Census figures for Los Angeles County, are likely to become homeless. If […] support networks have been severely degraded by the pandemic, those numbers could rise to 120,000 newly homeless households, with 184,000 children.
Sounds pretty bleak, doesn’t it? The report offers some good recommendations for policymakers and lawmakers, such as providing legal counsel for renters facing eviction and expanding rapid rehousing programs, but these will only mitigate the damage.
The root of the problem here is that many of our elected officials are basically pawns working for real estate investors. The Department of Justice’s ongoing corruption investigation in the City of LA has so far produced four guilty pleas, including one former councilmember. It’s almost certain that at least one current councilmember will be indicted, and the evidence released clearly indicates a widespread conspiracy that has turned the project approval process into a high-stakes pay-to-play game.
According to the LA Department of City Planning’s (LADCP) annual reports to the State of California, about 90% of new residential units approved in the City of LA from 2013 to 2018 were for Above Moderate Income Households. This means that the combined number of Low, Very Low and Moderate Income units approved each year comprised about 10% of the total. The LADCP, the Mayor and members of the City Council have repeatedy claimed that the high-end high-rises they’ve been greenlighting in Downtown, Koreatown, the Valley and elsewhere were going to help solve the housing crisis. At the same time, they’ve pushed for policies that incentivize the destruction of existing rent-stabilized housing. This appalling combination of greed, stupidity and denial has led us to where we are now.
I know they’re tough to look at, but I strongly urge you to read both the press release on the homeless count and the report from the Luskin Institute. The only way we’re going to get out of this situation is to take a long, hard look at the brutal facts.
I’m not a big fan of TV news, but I was impressed by this report from CBS. The title, Priced Out, says it all. Tenants are being displaced because real estate investors are buying multifamily buildings and jacking up the prices so they can cash in. This means working people are being forced out of their homes. The idea that we can build our way out of this crisis is ludicrous. Yes, we need to build housing, but the people who argue that high housing prices are simply the result of short supply don’t know what they’re talking about. According to the CBS report, median rent in LA increased 84% from 2010 to 2018. This is a direct result of a massive expansion in real estate speculation, and the impacts on LA households have been devastating. Click on the link to view the video.
Housing is the hottest issue in California right now. Here in LA housing costs continue to climb, the pace of evictions is quickening, and the number of homeless is increasing by leaps and bounds. The folks at City Hall talk a lot about taking action, but nothing they’ve done so far has had any significant impact. The situation just keeps getting worse.
So a group of housing advocates, homeless advocates, and renters’ rights advocates decided to stage a protest on Fairfax last Friday. They put up a line of tents along the curb to dramatize the plight of those who are currently homeless, and also the thousands more who will likely become homeless in the next few years.
Protesters lined up on Fairfax.
The media showed up with their cameras to cover this tent city press conference. The organizers called on Mayor Garcetti and the City Council to develop a plan to create affordable housing, ensure responsible development, and expand rent control.
A number of people spoke about different aspects of the crisis. Victor García, a recent graduate of UCSB, talked about the invisible problem of student homelessness. He told the crowd about UCLA students living in their cars because they couldn’t afford student housing and apartments in Westwood were way beyond their reach. García would like to see an end to California’s Costa-Hawkins act, which the limits the expansion of rent control.
Victor Garcia speaks about student homelessness.
Emily Martiniuk told her own story, a harrowing account of being evicted at age 59 and having nowhere to go. Contemplating suicide, she had the presence of mind to check herself into Olive View Medical Center, and eventually was able to move into a permanent supportive housing facility. She escaped long-term homelessness, but there are tens of thousands of people on the streets of LA right now who weren’t so lucky. Martiniuk has travelled the US in recent years, speaking about the importance of creating more permanent supportive housing.
Emily Martiniuk is a vocal advocate for permanent supportive housing.
As cars drove by on Fairfax, protesters stood at the curb holding signs and chanting slogans. Just before I left I heard them shouting, “Tent city! Do something, Garcetti!” Hopefully somebody at City Hall is listening. It would be great if the Mayor and the City Council finally did decide to do something about this crisis.
There were a couple of articles in the Downtown News that caught my eye this week. The first was a piece about a 67-story residential tower that’s been proposed for a parcel near Figueroa and Seventh. Developers are falling all over themselves in the rush to build high-end high-rises in the area, and City Hall has been bending over backwards to help them along. The article also mentions a few other skyscrapers that are currently in the pipeline, as the the Downtown development juggeraut keeps rolling along. While it’s conceivable that a few affordable apartments will be tacked on to some of these projects in the course of the bargaining process, the vast majority of these new units will be far beyond the reach of the average Angeleno. Here’s the article if you want to take a look.
The other article was about the sharp increase in crime Downtown. For those of you who haven’t been following this issue, crime has increased in many of LA’s neighborhoods in recent years, and Downtown is one of the areas hardest hit. Violent crime in the LAPD’s Central Division is up 8.3% through June 3 compared with the same period in 2015. This includes a 15.7% increase in aggravated assault. Property crimes are up 14%, with a 64% rise in burglaries and thefts from vehicles.
The article acknowledges that rising crime is at least in part due to the fact that the area is seeing an influx of well-to-do residents at the same time that the homeless population continues to rise. In Downtown these days the gap between cozy affluence and desperate poverty is glaringly, disturbingly obvious. As City Hall continues to approve one gleaming skyscraper after another, and takes every opportunity to advertise the booming Downtown scene, its efforts to deal with the growing homeless population are still outrageously inadequate.
It’s not just the current crowd at City Hall that’s to blame for LA’s ongoing homeless crisis. For decades our elected officials have preferred to ignore the problem rather than take steps to address it. Fifty years ago the City’s approach was to try to herd the unsheltered population into Skid Row and keep them contained there. In recent years our elected officials tried more aggressive tactics, confiscating the belongings of people living on the streets and criminalizing homelessness. City Hall only backed off on this approach after losing a series of legal challenges to these practices. And in the meantime, homelessness continued to rise.
Last year it seems the Mayor and City Council finally realized how serious the situation was and how bad it was making them look. There’s been a lot of fanfare about the passage of both Measure H and Measure HHH, which will build permanent supportive housing (PSH) and provide services to treat those with mental health and addiction problems. Certainly this is an important first step, but it’s only a first step. It’ll take years to put the housing and services in place, and it’s hard to say how many units will actually be created. Meanwhile, the 2017 homeless count shows that the population increased from last year’s record high of 28,464 to a new record high of 34,189. A staggering 20% jump.
It’s great that H and HHH passed, but this is far too little, far too late. And still City Hall continues to approve endless luxury high-rises, luring more upscale residents to Downtown. They say they’re concerned about rising crime in the area, but adding more police and encouraging the formation of neighborhood watch groups isn’t going to solve the problem.
City Hall needs to start doing some planning. It needs to step back from the mad rush to build luxury skyscrapers, and start thinking seriously about how to reduce homelessness in Downtown. By now it should be obvious that the “Build, Baby, Build” approach isn’t working. Filling the urban core with high-rises for the rich while people wallow in abject poverty on the streets below has created an unsafe environment for residents and stretched the LAPD’s resources dangerously thin. The Mayor and the City Council need to accept the fact that this strategy is seriously flawed, and scale back further construction until they’ve found a way to create a safer, more equitable environment for EVERYONE who lives Downtown.
You can access the article on rising crime by clicking on the link below. I should point out that the link will take you to an on-line tabloid version of the Downtown News, and you’ll have to flip forward to page 10.
On Wednesday, February 15, eight neighborhood councils sponsored a forum for candidates in the mayoral race. Almost all of them showed up to share their views on the state of the City and to present their vision for the future. Unfortunately, incumbent Eric Garcetti couldn’t make it. Certainly the Mayor is a busy guy, and it might be understandable if he couldn’t appear in person, but his office did tell the organizers that he would be sending a representative to speak in his place. Inexplicably, Garcetti’s representative didn’t make it either. Why is this?
As everybody who lives in LA knows, we’re facing major challenges right now. Nine of the eleven candidates for mayor felt it was important to show up and speak to the community. Apparently the Mayor didn’t feel like it was worth his time.
The neighborhood councils organizing this event spent a lot of time putting it together. Citizens concerned about their communities gave up their Wednesday night to learn where the candidates stood on the issues. But the Mayor couldn’t even send a representative to outline his agenda for a second term. Spokesman Yusef Robb didn’t offer an explanation for Garcetti’s absence, stating only that he was “unavailable”. Anastasia Mann, President of the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council, said she was told by the Mayor’s office that Garcetti didn’t need to be at the event since the other candidates weren’t doing well in the polls. Mann expressed her disappointment at the Mayor’s decision. I’m disappointed, too.
While we’ve seen improvement in LA’s economy during the last four years, Garcetti seems unable (or unwilling) to deal with a number of problems that have only grown more pronounced during his tenure. Families are struggling to cover spiralling costs for housing. Homelessness has risen dramatically. Some of LA’s communities have seen huge spikes in crime. The City’s budget is awash in red ink, even though revenue is up. And in spite of the Mayor’s insistence that the City is promoting transit-oriented development, transit ridership continues to decline.
If you ask me, it’s clear that Garcetti’s tenure as Mayor has been a disaster for Los Angeles, and maybe this explains why he didn’t show up at the forum. If he had been there, he would have had talk about why the City is in such dire straits. So it’s really not surprising that he didn’t have time to appear at this event.
On the other hand, the Mayor does have time for events where he has a chance to suck up more campaign cash. He apparently flew to Sacramento on Wednesday to meet with state officials and attend a fundraiser. It’s clear he hopes to run for higher office, probably governor or senator, and doesn’t plan on serving the full term if re-elected. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t seem terribly interested in solving LA’s problems. Running a city can suck up a lot of time, and who needs the headaches when your number one priority is funding your political career?
Garcetti’s spokesman was right. He is “unavailable”. Also disinterested and disengaged. Apparently the only thing he’s really passionate about is fulfilling his political ambitions. It shouldn’t be hard to find a candidate who cares more than the Mayor about finding solutions to the City’s problems, because the Mayor doesn’t seem to care at all.
Notice outside of vacant homes on Roscoe Blvd. in Panorama City.
If you live in LA, by now you’ve gotten used to the fact that homeless people are part of the landscape. No matter where you go, Downtown, Koreatown, Hollywood, Van Nuys, you see people living on the streets. It used to be that homelessness was one of those things you could escape by running to the suburbs, but not any more. Nowadays Burbank, Glendale, Encino, all have their share of people living in tents and cardboard boxes. The homeless are everywhere, and there’s no simple solution.
The homeless population in Panorama City has been growing for a long time. For a while there was a large encampment off of Van Nuys Blvd. over by Smart & Final. Not too long ago the City dismantled it, but of course, that didn’t solve the problem. The residents of the camp were dispersed, but they didn’t go away. They just bundled up their stuff and moved it somewhere else.
Homeless encampment near Roscoe and Lennox.
Another shot of the makeshift shelter.
At the corner of Roscoe and Lennox there was a row of houses that were empty. A developer had bought them intending to tear them down, but since work on the project hadn’t started yet, the homes just stood there, vacant. It wasn’t long before a group of homeless people decided to move in. The police chased them out, but instead of leaving the area, they simply created a makeshift shelter on the parkway in front of the houses. As weeks went by the shelter grew larger and longer, until it was difficult to pass on the sidewalk.
Vacant houses near Roscoe and Lennox.
A view from the alley behind the vacant homes.
I was curious to find out what was going on with the empty houses, so I contacted Councilmember Nury Martinez’ office. I got a call back from her Communications Director, Adam Bass, who told me that the developer had pulled a demolition permit for the houses, though he wasn’t sure when they’d actually be bulldozed. I asked how Councilmember Martinez was dealing with the homeless situation in her district, and he informed me that earlier this year a new program had been launched in CD 6. The Homeless Outreach and Proactive Engagement (HOPE) initiative brings together the LAPD, the Bureau of Sanitation, and the LA Homeless Services Authority to engage with those living on the streets. While the City still clears away illegal encampments, the idea is to offer assistance to those who want it. Bass told me that since May, the HOPE initiative had helped dozens of homeless people in the Valley, in some cases finding them space in shelters and in others giving a hand to those looking for jobs. Over the summer the program expanded into the LAPD’s Central and West bureaus, and next month it’ll move into South LA.
This is a big improvement over the City’s past efforts. Some of City Hall’s recent attempts to deal with the homeless have been outrageously heavy-handed. Their efforts were so draconian that they were challenged in court three times, and the City lost every time. So the idea of a multi-pronged approach that brings different agencies together to offer assistance is a welcome one, and I’m glad it’s been successful so far. But unfortunately, the problem is so big and so complex that it’s going to take a lot more to bring about real change.
There are no easy answers. I’ve talked to a lot of people about this issue, and everybody’s got ideas, but there’s no consensus. In November there will be a measure on the City ballot to approve a $1.2 billion bond which would pay for construction of permanent supportive housing. At the same time, the County is expected to ask voters to approve a quarter cent sales tax increase which would help provide new services to the homeless. These initiatives could make a big difference, but really they both have to pass in order to make things work. To construct new housing without expanding staff to provide support for the homeless would be a waste of money, and the same goes for offering additional support without getting people off the streets.
And it could be that both of these measures will go down. In this upcoming election, the City, County and State are asking voters to approve billions in taxes and bond measures, and it seems possible that many voters, overwhelmed by the flood of initiatives, won’t be in the mood to approve anything.
As for other ideas on how to help the homeless, some people have suggested that the City use existing vacant housing to provide shelter. My feeling is that without support services, this would be futile. The idea of gathering tens of thousands of homeless together in empty buildings without offering mental health services, help for addicts or counseling seems like a recipe for disaster. Another proposal is to get the state and/or federal government to kick in more money. Garcetti already tried that. It went nowhere.
Personally, I think the most important thing is to keep people from becoming homeless in the first place. This probably sounds so obvious you may ask why I’m even mentioning it, but it’s important to keep in mind. One of the leading causes of homelessness is eviction, and thousands of LA tenants have been kicked out of their homes in recent years. In part, this is because the City offers incentives to developers that make it very tempting for them to take advantage of the Ellis Act. If City Hall really wants to make a dent in the homeless problem, our elected officials need to stop rewarding landlords who throw their tenants out. The recent passage of an ordinance to crack down on “cash for keys” scams is a good start, but City Hall needs to do more. If you don’t want people living on the streets, then you need to do everything possible to keep them in their homes.
Demolition of the houses on Roscoe.
Earlier this month, the homeless encampment on Roscoe was dismantled. Around the same time, the houses that had been standing empty were demolished. But it’s only a matter of time before another makeshift shelter springs up in the neighborhood. This problem isn’t going away any time soon.