Los Angeles calls homelessness an emergency, unveils $100 million plan

Los Angeles Declares Homelessness a Public Emergency



Los Angeles officials on Tuesday called homelessness an "emergency" in the city and proposed spending $100 million to provide permanent housing and shelters for the city's 26,000 indigent.

Mayor Eric Garcetti joined several City Council members in unveiling the plan, which follows an increase in the city's homeless population from just under 23,000 two years ago, according to figures from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

The nation's second-largest city has a large share of its homeless, nearly 18,000 people, who live on the streets as opposed to shelters. Officials in New York, the nation's biggest city, say that last year they had about 3,360 people living unsheltered, a number that has decreased compared to a decade ago.

The announcement of the $100 million plan, which was introduced to the council on Tuesday, came a day after Garcetti proposed another $13 million in expenditures to tackle homelessness, with a special focus on aiding U.S. military veterans.

See photos of the city's homeless crisis:

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Los Angeles calls homelessness an emergency, unveils $100 million plan
A woman at a homeless encampment in downtown Los Angeles, California on August 31, 2015. A Quinnipiac University National poll released August 31 alleges that a total of 71 percent of American voters are 'dissatisfied' with the way things are going in the nation today. AFP PHOTO/ Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A homeless woman pushes her cart full of belongings along a street in Los Angeles, California on August 25, 2015. According to a report released today by the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit research group in Los Angeles, some 13,000 people tumble into homelessness every month in Los Angeles County, where the latest official count of the homeless found 44,000 people living along county streets during a three-day period in January, a increase of 12% in two years. AFP PHOTO /FREDERIC J.BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
A homeless woman sits on a wheelchair outside her tent along a street in Los Angeles, California on August 25, 2015. According to a report released today by the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit research group in Los Angeles, some 13,000 people tumble into homelessness every month in Los Angeles County, where the latest official count of the homeless found 44,000 people living along county streets during a three-day period in January, a increase of 12% in two years. AFP PHOTO /FREDERIC J.BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
A homeless man sets up his tent along a street in Los Angeles, California on August 25, 2015. According to a report released today by the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit research group in Los Angeles, some 13,000 people tumble into homelessness every month in Los Angeles County, where the latest official count of the homeless found 44,000 people living along county streets during a three-day period in January, a increase of 12% in two years. AFP PHOTO /FREDERIC J.BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
A homeless woman pushes her cart of belongings along a street in Los Angeles, California on August 25, 2015. According to a report released today by the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit research group in Los Angeles, some 13,000 people tumble into homelessness every month in Los Angeles County, where the latest official count of the homeless found 44,000 people living along county streets during a three-day period in January, a increase of 12% in two years. AFP PHOTO /FREDERIC J.BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
A homeless man sets up his tent (R) as a homeless woman nearby checks her cellphone while resting her feet on a cart full of belongings in Los Angeles, California on August 25, 2015. According to a report released today by the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit research group in Los Angeles, some 13,000 people tumble into homelessness every month in Los Angeles County, where the latest official count of the homeless found 44,000 people living along county streets during a three-day period in January, a increase of 12% in two years. AFP PHOTO /FREDERIC J.BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
A homeless woman pulls her cart full of belongings along a street in Los Angeles, California on August 25, 2015. According to a report released today by the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit research group in Los Angeles, some 13,000 people tumble into homelessness every month in Los Angeles County, where the latest official count of the homeless found 44,000 people living along county streets during a three-day period in January, a increase of 12% in two years. AFP PHOTO /FREDERIC J.BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 19: Homeless sleep on the sidewalks in Venice Beach in Los Angeles, CA on July 19, 2015. Venice is changing. While it retains a bohemian vibe it is becoming more gentrified. At the same time homelessnes is on the rise. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 19: 'Susan' lives on the street in Venice in Los Angeles, CA on July 19, 2015. She said that she has been in Venice for two years but has been homeless since she was 5. Venice is changing. While it retains a bohemian vibe it is becoming more gentrified. At the same time homelessnes is on the rise. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 19: 'Susan' lives on the street in Venice in Los Angeles, CA on July 19, 2015. She said that she has been in Venice for two years but has been homeless since she was 5. Venice is changing. While it retains a bohemian vibe it is becoming more gentrified. At the same time homelessnes is on the rise. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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City Council President Herb Wesson said the $100 million would become available starting in January 2016.

With a number of luxury residential buildings opening in recent years, especially in the city's downtown core, some community groups blame gentrification for making the city's housing less affordable and contributing to the homeless problem.

A declaration that homelessness is an emergency in the city could potentially allow Los Angeles to receive federal funding to combat the problem, according to Wesson's office.

"The city has pushed this problem from neighborhood to neighborhood for too long," Garcetti, a Democrat, said at a news conference.

Garcetti, who is campaigning to attract the 2024 Olympic Games to Los Angeles, added that the homeless problem goes back years and has been marked by futile fights between city and county officials over who bears responsibility.

"It has cost us money, and most importantly it's cost us lives," he said.

Garcetti last year pledged to end the problem of homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015.

His latest funding proposal, laid out in a letter sent on Monday to the city's chief administrative officer, calls for providing $5.1 million in short-term rental subsidies to rapidly place homeless veterans into housing.

The subsidies for individual recipients could last between six and nine months, according to the letter.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Eric Beech)

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