Damian Dovarganes / AP Photo

LA passes plans against homelessness

City and county of Los Angeles OK coordinated plans to fight homelessness with subsidized housing and other programs

The city and county on Tuesday approved sweeping plans to fight homelessness by subsidizing housing and coordinating programs to keep people from joining an estimated 45,000 people already living on the streets.

The two coordinated strategic plans, which run to hundreds of pages, would cost billions of dollars if funding can be found for them.

However, the city and county have estimated that they already spend well over $1 billion a year to deal with the homeless, including the costs of police and jails, medical and mental health treatment and welfare benefits.

The city has more than 25,000 homeless people, well over half of the county total.

"This blueprint puts us on the path to adding more outreach workers on our streets, putting more affordable housing in our neighborhoods, and providing more supportive services to our most vulnerable residents," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. "The thousands of men, women, and children who live on our streets are not disposable. It is our moral imperative to help them."

Among other things, the city's plan suggests expanding homeless shelters, investing in new short- and long-term housing, creating a citywide system of mobile showers and easing restrictions on overnight parking so people can sleep in their cars.

Both the city and county have seen homeless figures soar in recent years. Experts blame that on several factors, including the long recession and, in Los Angeles, a housing supply shortage, gentrification and rapidly rising rents and home prices.

Last year, Los Angeles officials announced they planned to spend $100 million to eradicate homelessness. The cost of the new strategic plan would run an estimated $1.87 billion over the next decade. Officials must now find ways of providing the funding.

The county plan calls for spending $150 million over the next two years to reduce homelessness. The county's plan includes dozens of strategies, including subsidizing housing, working on creating jobs and raising pay for those at risk of homelessness, and coordinating programs for helping people with prison records, mental health or drug-abuse problems.

The Associated Press

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