Los Angeles Declares Historic Measure to Help its Huge Homeless Population
Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood and all of its glitz and glamour, has long since played a starring role in countless films. Ever since the movie studios opted to stake their claims in the area due to its nearly perfect year-round climate, Los Angeles has been a Mecca for many, both inside and outside the film industry. The city’s homeless population continues to grow at a staggering rate, and once again its climate plays a major role. If forced to sleep outdoors, a homeless person in the United States will, at the very least, not suffer from exposure in Southern California. However, that is not to say there aren’t worlds of pain suffered at the hands of the homeless in the City of Angels. In fact, the 2010 documentary film Lost Angels: Skid Row Is My Home (trailer available below) documents the lives of the homeless in Los Angeles, particularly in and around the infamous Skid Row area in the Downtown section of the city. Now, five years later, the metropolis is taking a major step towards combating the circumstances which have allowed for such dire living situations of many residents.
As reported by the New York Times on September 22, Los Angeles is pledging $100 million towards alleviating the city of its homeless population. According to the article, the city’s homeless population is around 26,000 people. “The mayor and City Council have pledged a sizable and coordinated response, proposing Tuesday to spend at least $100 million in the next year on housing and other services. They plan, among other things, to increase the length of time shelters are open and provide more rent subsidies to street people and those in shelters,” writes journalist Jennifer Medina.
It’s not just Los Angeles where socio-economic circumstances are resulting in a growing homeless population. “In urban areas, including New York, Washington and San Francisco, rising housing costs and an uneven economic recovery have helped fuel a rise in homelessness,” she writes. “In places known for good weather like Honolulu and Tucson, or for liberal politics — like Madison, Wis. — frustration has prompted crackdowns on large encampments. Some cities, like Seattle, have tried setting aside designated areas for homeless encampments. But to date, no city has claimed to have the perfect solution.” However, the specifics of Los Angeles’ circumstances are making it the perfect case study for nationwide efforts; the homeless population has grown an astonishing 12% since 2013. New York City faces a similarly astounding set of numbers, particularly last winter when the estimated number of homeless peaked at 60,000.
Efforts in Washington, D.C. have also aimed to address the issue of homeless, particularly at the National Coalition for the Homeless whose interim director says the problem stems from “not having anywhere near the affordable housing that’s needed,” an aspect of modern life across the country that is crystallized in steadily gentrifying cities like Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. In L.A., at least, the new spending plan will certainly face its hurdles, but the hope is its efficacy will allow it to translate into similar plans in other cities.
For more of Los Angeles’ proposed plan and its details, including arguments against it, read “Los Angeles Puts $100 Million Into Helping Homeless” at the New York Times.