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LA City Council May Operate Tent Encampments for 34,000 Homeless

Los Angeles homeless (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Jae C. Hong / Associated Press
Newport Beach, CA

The Los Angeles City Council voted last week to develop an “emergency” plan that could operate trailer and tent encampments to house 34,000-homeless — similar to the plan developed by Orange County.

The Los Angeles City Council on March 23 declared a homeless crisis by requesting the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority implement an Emergency Response to Homelessness Plan that would provide an alternative to encampments for 100 percent of the Los Angeles homeless population by December 31, 2018.

The Los Angeles Housing Authority recently reported that of the 34,189 homeless identified in the 2017 federally mandated count, 25,237 or 76 percent, were unsheltered and living on sidewalks, cars, tents, or mobile homes.

The report was released 16 months after homeless advocates convinced city voters they could permanently solve homeless by passing Measure HHH ballot initiative, which raised property taxes by $9.64 per $100,000 of assessed valuation to fund a $1.2 billion bond.

Los Angeles County then convinced voters in March 2017 to pass Measure H to provide $350 million per year worth of homeless mental health and addiction services through a ¼ percent increased sales tax up to 10 percent in a number of L.A. County cities.

Both measures only achieved the 2/3 majority required to pass because of a miraculous surge from absentee voters in central and south LA districts that supported higher taxes.

LA City Council members also recently voted to build 222 units of permanent supportive homeless housing in each of the 15 LA City Council districts by 2020. The first 122 of the 3,330 approved homeless units broke ground in East Hollywood in November.

But the federal 2017 City of Los Angeles homeless count found the population had spiked by 5,698, or about 20 percent, since 2016. That means despite raising $1.2 billion in taxes, the net number of homeless after the new construction has already increased by 2,368.

Last month, the city council voted unanimously to start housing 60 homeless people in trailers on a city-owned downtown lot. But despite the city paying $2 million for trailers equipped with bathrooms and showers, and funding allocating another $1 million a year to operate the downtown trailer park, CBS News reported that local restaurant owners say transients already hurt their business, and the trailers will make the situation worse.

The City of Los Angeles told voters it could solve the homeless problem with the HHH tax increase and $1.2 billion. But it cost Orange County $780,000 per month temporarily to house 700 homeless evicted from the Santa Ana River in 400 motel rooms. Given the enormous scale of L.A.’s homeless problem, that would cost the city about $49.2 million a month.

Orange County Supervisors voted on March 19 to set up tent cities on county parcels next to public parks in Irvine, Huntington, and Laguna Niguel. All 3 cities are threatening to file lawsuits to prevent the Orange County from dumping its problem on local communities.

None of the 15 Los Angeles Districts wants the risk exposure to infectious diseases that come with a homeless encampment. Breitbart News reported that a hepatitis A outbreak began among San Diego’s homeless population and has spread statewide. The latest California Public Health report found 703 new cases, 460 hospitalizations, and 21 deaths.

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