Finding Solutions to Homelessness

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I don't have to tell you that Los Angeles is facing a homeless crisis greater than we've seen before. Economic dislocation from the Great Recession, a reduction of mental health services, the challenge of finding good jobs, along with the dearth of affordable housing in LA have made Southern California ground zero for the problem over the past few years. We understand the problem well as we see its manifestations each day, but our response has matured in recent months. This year, the City Council dedicated $176 million -- more funding than ever before -- to fight homelessness. And we are currently exploring the best ways to use that money, taking necessary steps toward mapping out permanent solutions.

Finding solutions to this crisis is something that I'm working on daily at City Hall and in my North Hollywood District Office. My staff and I are partnering with government agencies and community organizations on short- and long-term fixes, like connecting homeless individuals with services, finding ways to mitigate the impacts of homelessness on residential neighborhoods, and getting more affordable and permanent supportive housing units built throughout Los Angeles.

Nothing about homelessness is easy. It is challenging for our communities and even harder for the people who don't have a roof over their heads at night. But, if we want to make our city livable, equitable and sustainable, we have to move ahead aggressively. Last year, the voters of Los Angeles City and County overwhelmingly stated their desire to do this by passing city Measure HHH and county Measure H, bold ballot initiatives that will direct hundreds of millions of dollars a year toward solving the crisis.

 

Need for Affordable Housing

As a new member of the City Council's Housing Committee, I am happy to be helping lead the charge. Along with our colleagues on the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, we recently approved a detailed loan program to use money generated by Measure HHH to build safe and affordable housing in LA. The program's aim is to help house the 34,000 homeless people in the City of Los Angeles over the next decade by providing affordable units coupled with health and mental health services, and job training and placement. Specifically, the program will support housing units built by developers with experience in constructing affordable housing. Units created through this program will also offer services provided by agencies and organizations that have a track record of serving homeless people and work well with the LA County Department of Health Services.

Without more affordable and permanent supportive housing, there is little hope of ending homelessness. We realize this and are moving toward rectifying this problem. But for it to work, city residents, who have already committed at the ballot box, will also need to commit to having open hearts and minds about these projects now and in the future. By building more housing on both public and private property, we will not be increasing the scope of the problem, but instead reducing it dramatically in all neighborhoods. If people have permanent shelter, they will no longer be on the streets. If people get the services they need to be productive members of society, they will work, go to school and thrive.

These solutions, no doubt, will be difficult to achieve at times, but I hope you will agree they are necessary to improve the both quality of life for our communities and for our neediest neighbors.

If you have thoughts or comments on this issue, please email me: paul.krekorian@lacity.org.