The Truth About Shelters and Homeless Services


Homelessness is the biggest social issue facing Los Angeles and I am committed to finding sensible solutions to this crisis. While the crisis is regional, its impacts are felt in different ways in every Council District 2 neighborhood.

My aim is to be as aggressive as possible in carrying out the mandate that Angelenos provided when 77 percent of voters passed Measure HHH in 2016. Along with Measure H, taxpayers spoke loudly and uniformly that they wanted action to create more temporary and permanent housing for the homeless and compliment that with greater services across the city.
Because this is a citywide issue, there must be geographical equity in where services and shelters are placed. Earlier this year, I signed the 222 pledge to approve at least 222 units of supportive housing in Council District 2 by 2020. We are halfway to this goal, but in the meantime, we need to bridge the gap in shelter and services while permanent housing is built.
Looking at City-Owned Properties
Along with the 222 pledge, hosting homeless connect days, increasing and coordinating city services, and organizing a large town hall on the issue, I recently introduced a motion to review eight city-owned properties in Council District 2 to determine if they are suitable for development to provide shelter, storage, safe parking or another use that will address homelessness. This is just a feasibility study on city-owned properties. Some of the properties may be appropriate for shelter, some for parking and some may not be suitable for any use related to homelessness. Once we receive the report from the City Administrative Officer, I will be able to make more informed decisions about what, if anything, can happen on these properties.
While it is too early to judge what projects will come from this study, it should be viewed as a positive step forward. It shows that we are working diligently -- and employing the taxpayer resources that voters provided -- to explore every available option in the search for solutions to this crisis. And we are not in this alone, as councilmembers across the city are reviewing city-owned properties to determine how they can be used to reduce homelessness. Pursuant to the Mayor's initiative, which I support, there will be temporary shelters in each of the 15 City Council District across the city. The citywide nature of this issue means that each area of the city must shoulder the responsibility to fix it.
In order for us to change this situation and get homeless people off the streets, I need your support. I need you to carry a positive message in conversations with your neighbors, co-workers and fellow business owners to convince them that it is in their interests to support the city's initiatives to end homelessness. I want you to give them the facts and to refute the myths and knee-jerk misconceptions that threaten to undermine our proposed solutions.
Local Problem Calls for Local Solution
If we want to end homelessness in our communities, we must be willing to accept shelter and services in our communities. This isn't someone else's problem anymore. People are already living out in the open in our neighborhoods because they lack a roof under which to sleep. Last year, of the more than 1,200 homeless people living in Council District 2, only 28 had shelter, which means that 98 percent of our homeless population lives in tents and encampments in neighborhoods across the district. With only one shelter in the Valley that is well outside of Council District 2, the number of homeless people sleeping in our neighborhoods will not diminish unless we act. 
There are only two ways forward: we can either provide the unsheltered with housing, or allow them to continue sleeping on our streets and sidewalks, in our parks and outside of businesses, which is unsafe for everyone.
Providing shelter and services will not cause people to flock to Council District 2 because the people we will serve are already here. We will be providing the people who are living in the area with secure and monitored housing, not inviting others in. We will be cleaning up encampments for good and placing those people in shelters. As I mentioned, we are not alone in this endeavor. There will be temporary shelters built in all 15 City Council districts across Los Angeles in the coming months.
Rest assured, I will keep in close contact with you and will not make decisions on the use of city-owned property without public input. Homelessness is a difficult issue and I am committed to finding a balance that both protects the integrity and safety of our neighborhoods, and is also compassionate to those in need.
Click here to read my motion.