Earlier this week, I joined Mayor Eric Garcetti and my City Council colleagues to announce the first step of a comprehensive strategy to address the issue of homelessness in Los Angeles.
Homelessness is the defining problem of our times in our city. It's a moral crisis we face everyday as more than 25,000 individuals and families continue to live on our city's streets. It is also a quality of life issue for our neighborhoods and an ongoing financial crisis for our city.
Nearly every city in LA County saw an increase in homelessness in past two years.
In April, the City's Chief Administrative Officer released a report stating that the City of Los Angeles spends more than $100 million a year coping with homelessness.
Roughly $87 million goes to arrests, skid row police patrols and mental health interventions. That means almost 9/10 of what we spend on homelessness right now is spent on enforcement, and it's done entirely without a plan.
As our CAO said then, "we are spending $100 million to manage the problem." For me, that's not good enough. It's not acceptable for our city, for this Council and for our taxpayers. We can't just keep managing this problem. WE NEED TO FIND A SOLUTION-and we need to start right now.
The plan Council President Wesson and I introduced moves to create a dedicated account in our city's finances called "Serving and Housing LA's Homelessness". In addition, we've instruct city analysts to draft a multi-year spending plan and identify funding sources to reduce homelessness in LA.
If we cannot figure out a way to solve this issue, to provide permanent supportive housing for those who need it or to connect people to real services that will help them get off the streets and improve their lives, then we will be failing in our jobs.
We must find a way to tackle homelessness - a way that is led by compassion and a strong collective moral compass, but also one that makes financial sense in the way we use city funds.