Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a state of emergency due to the homelessness crisis, and promised to devote $100 million of the city budget to help tackle this problem.
Nowadays, as county figures reveal, the homeless population in L.A. city has reached 26,000, after increasing dramatically, by 12% in the last two years.
According to estimations made by the Los Angeles Almanac, around 254,000 people are homeless in Los Angeles County at one point throughout the year, and circa 82,000 are without shelter every single night. They have to resort to sleeping in makeshift cardboard boxes, in tents or in the streets.
The notorious skid row is home to the largest population of homeless people in the nation (around 4,000 individuals), and currently it is facing a health crisis.
Due to unsanitary living conditions, the inhabitants’ immune system is compromised, which leads to a multitude of dangerous infections. Ever since 2007, a new strain of tuberculosis has sprung up in the area, posing a risk especially to vulnerable patients, with underlying health issues.
It is believed that the plight of homelessness was aggravated by recession, escalating rent and home prices, as well as by gentrification.
Urban planning has replaced dilapidated buildings and abandoned hotels with luxurious properties and fashionable restaurants. As a result, many poor and working class people could no longer afford to cope with their living costs, and were displaced and forced to remain in the street.
Given these troubling circumstances, the mayor of L.A. has declared that measures will be taken to help those affected by homelessness and create shelters, with resources that will probably originate from the city’s general fund.
“They are our fellow Angelinos. They are those who have no other place to go, and they are literally here where we work, a symbol of our city’s intense crisis”, declared mayor Garcetti.
It is expected that a strategic plan will be devised by December, and the first funds will be distributed in January, with a view to provide permanent housing and shelter.
In the meantime, $13 million in emergency funding will be spent to offer short-term assistance to people who lack secure accommodation. The vast majority of these sums will be housing subsidies, dedicated to veterans and non-chronically homeless people.
Nevertheless, some have claimed these proposed sums will not be sufficient to actually combat homelessness, because they won’t solve the housing crisis. According to Alice Callaghan, a well-known advocate of the homeless and impoverished residents of downtown L.A., officials may only be trying to cosmeticize the metropolis, by making homelessness less conspicuous.
This may be motivated as part of the city’s bid proposal to organize the 2024 Summer Olympics. The campaigner actually points out that the sum promised to homeless people is just a tiny fraction of the $6 billion budget that L.A. plans to spend in order to become the Games’ host.
At the moment, the city already spends around $100 million per year on homelessness, but these sums are usually related to arrests and other law enforcement services.
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