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Officials seek solutions to end homelessness

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and more than 300 neighborhood council members, homelessness liaisons, business leaders and city commissioners gathered at the Getty House Sept. 27 to help advance neighborhood-based efforts to end homelessness.

The Engage L.A. event at the mayor’s official residence included representatives of organizations such as Lava Mae, Chrysalis, Downtown Women’s Center and Wesley Health Center answering questions on how to help homeless people get services and housing.

“The fight to end homelessness is everyone’s fight,” Garcetti said.

No single entity — government, philanthropy, or the private sector — can solve the crisis alone, but together we can empower communities to make meaningful, lasting change. We need to keep creating new ways to pull Angelenos together around the idea that everyone deserves to live in safety and with dignity.”

According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, homelessness in the city of Los Angeles increased by 20 percent in 2016 to 34,189 people.

The mayor encouraged attendees to utilize his Housing Resource Matchmaker, a system that links the skills and resources of Angelenos with high-capacity, mission-driven builders and service providers. Garcetti also encouraged attendees to use his Days of Compassion website that offers ways to get involved in homeless initiatives.

The Days of Compassion website can be found athttps://www.lamayor.org/DaysOfCompassion.

While Garcetti was hosting his meeting at the Getty House, City Controller Ron Galperin was recommending the number of storage bins available for the homeless be increased while also suggesting that officials crack down on tents erected on sidewalks to combat the proliferation of homeless encampments.

“L.A.’s encampments are one of the most visible signs that our residents are not being served by the status quo,” Galperin said. “The city must act to protect the health, safety and accessibility of all Angelenos, housed and homeless alike. My latest report identifies several ways to optimize our current scarce resources and address the community impact of homeless encampments.”

According to Galperin’s report, tents are not permitted on city sidewalks between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. and personal property exceeding the equivalent of a 60-gallon container is never allowed in public spaces — but both are commonly found.

The report recommended stronger enforcement of tents and bulky items to help stop the spread of encampments.

“It is unpermitted — but not a crime — to erect or maintain a tent in public spaces between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. with exceptions during rain and cold temperatures. Disobeying a lawful order from a police or peace officer to remove a tent, however, is a violation of the law that could be enforced,” according to the report.

However, a federal judge Sept. 25 denied the city’s request to amend a 2016 injunction that stopped the city from seizing a homeless person’s property unless it poses a hazard or danger. The city had asked for allowance to seize “bulky” items larger than 60 gallons, which the City Council had approved as an ordinance after the injunction was issued last year. But the judge ruled that bulky items could only be seized if they present an immediate threat to public health or safety.

Galperin’s report also recommended creating more storage bins for the homeless on under-utilized city-owned properties, as well more emergency shelters, designated encampment areas and/or longer term development of affordable and supportive housing.

“While some people in some neighborhoods have strongly opposed storage facilities, the reality is that homeless encampments and residents are already found in nearly every L.A. community. Clean, safe storage will only help to relieve this crisis,” the report said.

The report also recommended:

• Intervening and cleaning before an encampment grows to the point of requiring extensive staffing, environmental protections and involuntary storage.

• Streamlining the cleanup and enforcement process.

• Improving systems of communication and establishing memorandums of understanding between the Los Angeles Sanitation Bureau, the police department and secondary agencies that play a role in cleanups.

• And assessing protocols related to homeless encampments.

 

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