Officials in Los Angeles declared a public emergency on Tuesday, Sept. 22, in regard to the city's surging number of homeless people. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the city council have proposed to spend at least $100 million in the next year on housing and other services for the homeless.
Parts of the plan include increasing the length of time shelters are open and providing more rent subsidies, according to the New York Times.
Homelessness is on the rise in urban areas like New York and San Francisco across the country, fueled by rising housing costs and an uneven economic recovery. In some cities, officials have begun to crackdown on homeless people.
Others, like Seattle, have set aside designated areas for homeless encampments. Yet so far, no city seems to have found a perfect solution.
“This is the fallout of not having anywhere near the affordable housing that’s needed,” Megan Hustings, the interim director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, told the New York Times. “It is repeated all over the country: We work to get them emergency food and shelter, but housing continues to be unaffordable, so you see people lingering in emergency services or going to the streets.”
In Los Angeles, rents have spiked and the city's spending on affordable housing has plunged to about a quarter of what it was a decade ago.
By some estimates, there are nearly 44,000 homeless people living within the city limits of Los Angeles County. According to a recent report by the Economic Roundtable, nearly 13,000 in Los Angeles County become homeless each month.
The budget proposal still needs to be approved by the City Council, after which point critical action will need to be taken to allocate funds and to implement a plan in order to actually make a difference for homeless people.
"It's a humanitarian crisis and a moral shame," Jose Huizar, a council member who represents the Skid Row area of downtown L.A., said. "It has reached a critical breaking point, that the sea of despair that we witness on the streets of Los Angeles each and every day must end, and it begins with all of us here today.”