The expected rains driven by El Niño have begun to fall in Los Angeles. Bad weather and the cold pose a challenge for our area, considered the capital of the homeless due to the high number of people living on the street. The outlook is not good, but impetus is growing for a long-term solution.
This week, Los Angeles County’s Civil Grand Jury issued a devastating report calling the plans to accommodate nearly 29,000 homeless people (70% of the total) “unconscionable and grossly inadequate.”The study, based on county authorities’ responses to a questionnaire, revealed thatthere is “very little substantive planning” and that a“severe lack”of shelter beds.
The report presents a series of recommendations for Los Angeles County and its 88 cities, ranging from changing regulations and ordinances to allow the opening of more shelters to the distribution of tents and ponchos. The ultimate purpose is to avoid cases of hypothermia and death.
In the following days two ambitious proposals came to light. One is from the city of Los Angeles, taking a comprehensive approach to the problems of homelessness, at a cost of $1.8 billionover 10 years. Local analysis points to a lack of affordable housing and shelters. To implement the plan, taxes would have to be raised. It remains to be seen if Los Angeles voters are willing to pay them. The city and the county already devoted $100 million each to address the current emergency.
The other proposal comes from Sacramento, in response to the frustration that efforts by local authorities are insufficient, thus requiring state funds. Senate President Kevin de León proposed a $2 billion program to build and rehabilitate permanent housing for people with mental illness living on the street. California’s homeless population is estimated at 116,ooo, and 60% of them live outdoors.
Urgent measures must be taken to address this problem, because “the cost of inaction will continue to grow,” as noted in the city’s report. Every winter Band-Aids can be found to address the problem, but those are not solutions.The image of the indigent, the homeless and the mentally ill must be made more human in order to help put a roof over their heads.