Appraising the county’s homeless plan
Re “L.A. County OKs ‘Historic’ Homeless Plan,” April 5
We heartily applaud the county supervisors’ strong 4-1 vote Tuesday to support a comprehensive regional homelessness plan. It involves state-of-the-art services models and is historic in its breadth.
The city is working with supervisors Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and Zev Yaroslavsky on innovative housing with built-in services. But as your Monday editorial (“The authority to solve”) pointed out, successful implementation of the county strategy will work only if the city of Los Angeles -- which has 58% of the homeless, 48,000 people -- and the county work hand in glove.
The city and county combined financial commitment ($100 million from the county, $50 million from the city) is still only one-quarter of New York’s homeless budget. Only collaboration will maximize these still-scarce dollars toward this national tragedy.
The reinvigorated L.A. Homeless Services Authority that your editorial envisioned is essential for success of the region’s policy. Otherwise, it will prove impossible to mobilize other cities, or actively engage business, labor, religious and philanthropic leaders to build and broaden the moral and financial will to tackle this issue successfully.
ANTONIO R. VILLARAIGOSA
City Councilwoman and
Chair of the Ad Hoc
Monday’s editorial was right that our effort to solve the homelessness problem in Los Angeles County must include the input and approval of the county’s other 87 cities and 134 unincorporated areas for locating proposed regional centers -- a provision the flawed county plan does not include.
Last week, my office provided $1 million to the Union Station Foundation in Pasadena -- a public/private partnership that has engaged the faith-based community, local government and the private sector in locating, operating and expanding its service facility. This facility reflects the cooperation needed for a successful outcome to the homelessness issue and how we must engage our partners in the community, not ignore them.
The county plan is vague on how funds will be spent. Funds for homelessness programs must come from the departments of Health and Mental Health, not Public Safety. The plan fails to mandate treatment for the mentally ill and drug- or alcohol-addicted.
Los Angeles County
Wednesday’s article on L.A. County plans for the homeless states that these locations can be a spot for community services to drop off transients when they have been discharged. I have no doubt that the centers themselves will do nothing but good. However, my question is, what about all the other transients, the ones just out there? How are they to access these clinics? It’s not as if they can just get in the car and head on over. Do we load up unused school buses and ship them out?
Funny thing is that if this plan succeeds, downtown will be ripe for a face-lift. I live in San Diego and have seen how the downtown here has been turned around. Once a dirty, unsafe clump of concrete and steel, now it’s the hottest spot south of Newport Beach. Once the ugly part is removed, lofts, restaurants, bars and high-end fashion boutiques will sprout up, making local developers even richer.
The county supervisors must step down from their ivory towers and consider the fact that being homeless does not mean being jobless. Centers need to be located where work is available or public transit is nearby and affordable.
I know it’s hard to believe that a country that can afford to declare war on faulty evidence and can afford to occupy another country, perhaps permanently, cannot create an environment in which its own citizens who have jobs, sometimes two jobs, have a safe place to live, but that’s “truthiness” for you.
Please let’s do it right this time.