Damian Dovarganes / AP Photo

Los Angeles declares homelessness state of emergency

Los Angeles city officials propose spending $100 million on permanent housing to reduce homeless population

Los Angeles officials said Tuesday that they will declare a state of emergency over homelessness, and proposed spending $100 million to reduce the number of people living on the streets.

City Council President Herb Wesson, along with members of the council's Homelessness and Poverty Committee and Mayor Eric Garcetti, announced the plan during a news conference outside City Hall — as homeless people dozed nearby on a lawn.

“This city has pushed this problem from neighborhood to neighborhood for too long, from bureaucracy to bureaucracy,” Garcetti said. “Every single day we come to work, we see folks lying on this grass, a symbol of our city’s intense crisis.”

An emergency declaration and the funding would require action by the full city council. Wesson didn't specify where the money would come from. However, his office said the first rollout of funds — projected for Jan. 1 — would go toward permanent housing and shelter.

Officials said they hope to have a draft strategic plan on homelessness by December.

The proposal coincides with another city proposal that was announced Monday and would free up $13 million in excess tax revenue for short-term housing initiatives, The Los Angeles Times reported.  

A May 2015 report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found that an estimated 44,359 homeless people live in Los Angeles County — a 12 percent increase since 2013.

“It's not a skid row problem,” Los Angeles City Council member Gilbert Cedillo told the Times, referring to a downtown Los Angeles area with thousands of homeless people. “It's a problem that's proliferated throughout the city. If we want to be a great city that hosts the Olympics and shows itself off to the world,” he added, “we shouldn't have 25,000 to 50,000 people sleeping on the streets.”

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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