Having a home is something many of us take for granted. Whether it serves as our respite from our work or where we raise our children, home is what gives us a sense of ownership and pride - it is something that we can call “ours”. However, for over 40,000 Angelenos, home is not somewhere that they rent or own, but a tent under the freeway or an RV on a city street. Having a home provides dignity and security, and it is a basic human right.
Therefore, the lack of a home, homelessness, is the moral crisis of our time. How we handle the issue of homelessness is how history will judge our generation. Los Angeles has spent decades trying to deal with homelessness in fits and starts - from the establishment of LAHSA in 1993 to Measure H and Measure HHH in 2016, local government has created systems and structures and poured billions of dollars into addressing this crisis. Yet, the problem only gets worse and more and more people fall into homelessness each year. We are using Dixie cups to bail out the water on the Titanic. We need a new path forward.
If we are to truly address homelessness in Los Angeles, we need to set a goal, a NORTHSTAR, to guide us on a clear path to reduce homelessness, and a timeline, that everyone - city, county, state, and federal partners - are working towards. Without a goal, we have nothing to measure our success or failure, and we cannot make adjustments to our path.
Achieving this goal means taking a multipronged approach that includes a variety of interventions and strategies that fit together to truly tackle homelessness. It includes building temporary housing, rapidly rehousing individuals, preventing people from falling into homelessness, and creatively using our financial and land resources to house people as quickly as possible.
This model means having a system that has the capacity to quickly rehouse individuals who fall victim to homelessness and can generate a throughput that puts unhoused people into temporary housing and then into permanent housing in a timely manner. Homeless individuals reside in every neighborhood in Los Angeles; therefore, our resources should meet clients where they are in order to achieve equity in the distribution of, and access to, these resources.
When the pandemic hit in March, the City's departments collaborated at an unprecedented rate to prioritize rapidly housing over 6,000 of the most COVID-19 vulnerable unhoused Angelenos through Project Roomkey. As this effort ramps down, the City is acquiring 15 properties, via the Homekey Program, to ensure a smoother transition preventing people from ending up back on the streets. In addition, the City has committed to addressing the devastating housing effects of COVID-19 by proactively investing hundreds of millions of dollars through the Homelessness Roadmap interventions. Yet, this is still not enough.
In March 2020, LAHSA released its Homeless Services System Analysis which examined our existing system and analyzed what it would take in order to functionally end homelessness in Los Angeles. The report, issued prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, states that the city would need to have 45,941 total units - consisting of temporary housing, transitional housing, rapid rehousing, and permanent supportive housing. Currently, the city only has 24,539.
I THEREFORE MOVE that the City Council adopt the creation of at least 25,000 new units by 2025, regardless of the type of unit, as the city's Homeless Housing Goal; and,
I FURTHER MOVE that the Chief Legislative Analyst in coordination with other departments, as needed, report back on the necessary policies and housing units of each type that need to be produced per year in order to achieve this goal as well as areas in the city that have existing service delivery gaps.