Local News

Homelessness Committee

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Five Los Angeles City Council members called today
for the creation of a committee to help coordinate homeless services, with city
officials saying they spend more than $100 million a year to address the issue.
The proposed Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness is in response to a report
issued last week by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, who found the
city has no focused plan to address issues affecting the city’s 23,000 homeless
people, despite spending millions of dollars each year.
Santana told the council today that when his staff questioned each city
department on how they serve the homeless, “we were shocked to find that there
is no central way” they were doing it.
“Each department confronts this issue in its own way,” he said, adding
the $100 million is a conservative estimate.
Councilman  Mike Bonin called the report a “wake-up call,” and said
the city is essentially “wasting $100 million a year” by working without a
plan.
If approved, the committee would be chaired by Councilman Jose Huizar,
whose district includes Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, considered to have
the highest concentration of homeless people in the city.
The newly created panel would look at ways to better streamline the
city’s response to homelessness and better coordinate with the Los Angeles
County and other organizations that offer services to the homeless.
Huizar said he is calling for the committee because homelessness “has
become a crisis of epic proportions” and is “one of the biggest issues”
challenging the city, “yet we lack a comprehensive plan to address it.”
He added that the existing policy “has clearly failed us,” with the
city preoccupied in recent years with reacting to litigation over issues around
homelessness, such as over the removal of items left on sidewalks and streets
by the homeless.
Council President Herb Wesson, who also backed the creation of the
panel, said “the intractable nature of the problem, and the urgent need for a
road-map to an effective comprehensive approach demands the focus” offered by
a council committee.

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