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The city of Los Angeles, struggling with a homeless problem, has proposed to spend $3 billion over the next five years to try to house its massive homeless population — there are an estimated 41,000 homeless people in the city.
The proposal is the result of a complaint filed in 2020 by various business owners, residents, and other notable leaders in the community, accusing the city authorities of failing in their basic responsibilities to do something about the problem of endemic homelessness that has spilled over into all walks of life. The complaint alleged that the city has done nothing to address the conditions homeless face, such as crime, hunger, and Covid-19, reported NBC.
The city, therefore, has proposed spending between $2.4 to $3 billion in order to build housing with 14,000 to 16,000 beds, which would be intended to accommodate approximately 60 percent of the homeless in the 15 council districts that comprise Los Angeles. Anyone considered “chronically homeless” or have a chronic illness would still be the responsibility of Los Angeles County.
However, the litigation between Los Angeles County and the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights, among others, is ongoing. Any final settlement has to be approved by the Los Angeles county council.
“We have families living in tents, women fleeing domestic violence sleeping in parks, people clearly struggling with mental illness walking our streets alone at night,” said Nury Martinez, City Council President, in a statement.
All this has helped fuel the war between city and county officials, each of whom blame the other for the homeless problem and the inaction that has allowed it to escalate to its current levels. This bickering between government officials at different levels has become a symbol of California’s large cities, in which homelessness has reached epic proportions while various officials and bureaucrats try to point the finger at each other.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin de Leon blamed his colleagues at the county level, saying that the city itself now has “two choices:”
“When it became clear that our partners at the county were not interested in collaborating, we were left with two choices: We could ride the litigation merry-go-around while people live and die on our streets or cut our own pathway forward to help as many people as possible. We decided to lead because it isn’t our job as city leaders to play nice, country club politics with anyone.”
This isn’t the first time Los Angeles has faced legal troubles over its homeless problem. In 2021, U.S. District Judge David Carter produced a strongly worded 110-page order in which the city had to provide shelter for the homeless on Skid Row within 180 days, and in addition, audit its finances and spending on homeless services. The order denounced the total uselessness of city officials in doing anything about the rapid growth in homelessness, causing homeless camps to spread to every part of the city.
“All of the rhetoric, promises, plans, and budgeting cannot obscure the shameful reality of this crisis — that year after year, there are more homeless Angelenos, and year after year, more homeless Angelenos die on the streets,” Carter wrote as part of a preliminary injunction during the case.
Meanwhile, various homeless experts warn that thousands may die on the streets before sufficient housing is found, as the conflict rages between California, its county officials, its city officials, and the average citizens within those cities.
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