Editorial: Towards the End of Homelessness

Los Angeles is still the nation’s homelessness capital.

La indigencia ha ido en aumento en los últimos años.

La indigencia ha ido en aumento en los últimos años. Crédito: Aurelia Ventura | La Opinión


The “fight plan” against homelessness unveiled by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is an important step that we support wholeheartedly.

A 12% rise in homelessness since 2013 shows that the efforts in place until now have been insufficient.

Los Angeles is still the nation’s homelessness capital. Nearly 45,000 people in the county do not have a place to live, 25,000 of them in the city.

City authorities want to eliminate the number of homeless veterans by the end of the year, and all others before the end of next year. This is a noble objective. However, the focus and methods must change in order to make this possible.

Last year, the City of Los Angeles spent $100 million on destitute people, but most of it went to making arrests and patrolling, not to provide them with a roof, an indispensable first step in their reintegration to society.

Forcefully evicting the homeless and confiscating their meager belongings cannot be the rule. When City Council approved this discriminatory measure in June, Garcetti failed to veto it even though he had the power to do so. He did not “fight” then against the idea that “getting them “out of our sight” is the way to solve the problem.

Fortunately, he did suspend the application of punitive measures.

All the while, the federal government has cut in half the funding it supplies through the HOME Investment Partnership Funds program to a mere $21 million, and even this amount is in danger of disappearing. The Administration reneges on its obligation to help people who have nothing, and Congress must not allow it.

On the other hand, Garcetti rightly recognizes that keeping the homeless alive on the street or putting them in houses for people with no incomes was not working. His plan to get a clear and present idea of the number of homeless people is a good step to gain full understanding the situation.

However, he should adopt the measures proposed by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, which included creating a municipal office to combat homelessness, establishing neighborhood centers to assist destitute people in the areas where they are, and investing more funds in reaching the places where the homeless are.

We hope that this war against homelessness will be fought resolutely and successfully.

The Latino homeless deserve a separate chapter. We could congratulate ourselves because the proportion of homeless people in our community is smaller than in the general population. This may be attributed to the strong family traditions within the culture, but we also lament that they often hide from view on purpose because they are undocumented. As a result, they are not counted and do not have access to assistance services available to others.

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