LA Declares Homelessness a $100M 'Emergency'
City council to put serious cash toward fighting problem
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2015 8:21 AM CDT
Tents used by the homeless line a downtown Los Angeles street with the skyline behind Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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(Newser) – Los Angeles says it will declare a state of emergency to deal with … homelessness. Mayor Eric Garcetti and city council made the announcement yesterday, noting $100 million will be set aside to help the 26,000 living on the city's streets, up 12% since 2013, reports the Los Angeles Times. It followed a decree a day earlier outlining $13 million to be used for short-term housing initiatives, reports the AP. "It's time to get real, because this is literally a matter of life and death," says a councilor, who describes a "collective failure of every level of government to deal with what has been a homeless crisis for generations and is exploding and exacerbating now." Though the measure still needs to be voted on, some say the money could help ease restrictions on churches and nonprofits that shelter the homeless and cut red tape to allow faster building of affordable housing.

There's also the possibility of expanding a tracking system for homeless people, new centers for them to store belongings and use social services, and anti-poverty measures, says Garcetti. That sounds great, but some doubt whether the money will materialize. The council hasn't said where it will come from, though the reserve fund is an option. The council president says simply it will be found "somehow, some way," while the city's top financial official says council is "asking us to look at all revenues the city has access to, so we will do that." Others are skeptical that $100 million will do anything more than cover up the problem ahead of Los Angeles' proposed bid to host the 2024 Olympics. It "certainly won't build much housing," says an advocate, who compares the plan to New York City's $41 billion affordable housing order, per the AP. It "won't even buy all the homeless pillows."