This week, the Homelessness and Poverty Committee approved my motion calling on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to demonstrate greater transparency regarding its funded programs and expenses. The motion, which will next be considered by the full council, specifically requests LAHSA provide any performance data and expenses by category, program, and provider going back four years.
It has become clear that we are in the midst of a homelessness crisis unlike any this city has ever seen. In 2019, the number of people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles rose 16%, to 36,165. Of that total, 27,221 were unsheltered. Since these figures were derived from January's Point-in-Time count, we can safely assume that through the year the unsheltered number in particular increased.
In the past few years, unprecedented resources have been put into the effort to combat homelessness. And yet, there are more people living on the streets; in sleeping bags, makeshift encampments, and vehicles.
While exorbitant rents, cuts in mental health services, and economic hardship are all contributing factors, we must also examine how the money is being spent, and whether it's being spent wisely. As the largest homeless services agency in Los Angeles County, I look to LAHSA to lead this effort.
The combination of my motion and new leadership at LAHSA offers some hope that the public will get the answers that it deserves and demands about funding for homeless services. We cannot expect to turn the corner in this monumental effort without proper accountability.