Demands for More Urgent Solutions to Homeless Encampments

Thousands of homeless camp on the streets throughout Los Angeles.

by Melanie Camp and Sam Catanzaro

Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Marqueece Harris-Dawson submitted a motion, Wednesday, February 20, demanding a more urgent solution to the homeless crisis. In the motion, the Councilmembers asked the City of Los Angeles to “provide genuine alternatives to sidewalk encampments,” and attack the homeless crisis with a greater sense of urgency.

At the Venice Neighborhood Council meeting that evening, City of Los Angeles Feild Deputy, Taylor Bazley said, “This identifies the needs and steps required to offer temporary emergency shelter to everybody who is currently living on the streets based on the last homeless count by the end of the year.”

More than 34,000 people are homeless in the City of Los Angeles. Our unsheltered homeless population is one of the highest in the nation. While the wheel is turning toward reducing homelessness, according to the motion, nothing planned addresses the problem of what to do right now, and many are left camping on the “cold, hard pavement…”

The motion said, officials provided victims of the recent California wildfires with emergency shelter within hours of being evacuated from their homes.  However, “victims of economic hardship, gentrification, a housing shortage, domestic violence, sexual abuse, addiction, and mental illness are left to fend for themselves…” Something the motion said is “unacceptable and intolerable.”

“The epidemic of homelessness that we have now is at outrageous proportions and we should have always been responding as if this were a natural disaster. If this was a natural disaster you would see FEMA tents and you would see emergency shelters everywhere and it would be treated like a disaster and that is what this motion that we just introduced seeks to do,” Bazley said.

The motion requests the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) prepare a report within 14 days detailing, amongst other things, the percentage of those homeless in Los Angeles who are in a shelter program or housing, and how many people LAHSA plans to house by the end of the fiscal year.

LAHSA must also outline steps taken to replace barracks-style emergency shelters with bridge housing that provides “a genuine first step from the streets to long-term housing” and show what is being done to recruit houses of worship and non-profits as shelter providers.

“It’s pretty ambitious…but it kind of just started, but this is important because it could lead to the beginning of the end of encampments,” said Bazley.

Yo! Venice reached out to LAHSA today. A spokesperson for the organization was not able to immediately comment. We will update this story as soon as we have their response.