Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles has initiated a $20 million campaign to extend the city’s provision of shelter to the homeless with an announcement that plans are in action to utilize a parking lot owned by the city in Korea-town to help remedy the problem.
The plan is in its initial stages and details regarding cost and capacity are not yet available but Mayor Garcetti says that he is hoping to see the project provide shelter for at least 65 individuals.
The announcement of the proposed plan took on a pep rally-like atmosphere and included Herb Wesson, the president of the City Council along with dozens of members representing the Korean-American, African-American, and Bangladeshi communities. There were also members of the local clergy and city business leaders present to applaud the efforts on the part of the mayor.
Mayor Garcetti, as well as city council president Wesson, have made it clear that the $20 million pledge is in no way intended to replace or take away from a larger initiative in which more than $1 billion has been pledged for the permanent construction of housing for the homeless. Instead, the shelters to be built are seen as a temporary solution until permanent housing can be constructed.
Garcetti, while speaking at a press conference, says that the homeless residents of Los Angeles do not have years to wait for more long-term housing solutions to be constructed and that the temporary shelters are needed immediately.
Larry Gross, who works with a group calling itself the Coalition For Economic Survival, applauds the use of land owned by the city to provide shelter for the homeless to instead of making use of rent vouchers because he says this approach preserves rent-controlled apartments for the benefit of the working poor.
The mayor also announced that other possible locations for homeless shelters may be a vacant lot located next to the YMCA in Hollywood and an empty space alongside a diner just outside of Chinatown. The first shelter that is part of the city’s initiative will house 45 people and is set to open in downtown Los Angeles in mid-summer.
Many American cities face serious issues with affordable housing, and there is a certain percentage of the population that ends up without a home. This trend has been growing steadily across the United States for more than a decade now. However, one city in the middle of Kentucky has done its best to not only correct the issue, but to turn the tide against it. Lexington, Kentucky, has brought its homelessness rate down to levels that have not been seen since 2004.
A census in January of this year showed that there were approximately 685 people within the municipal area of Lexington who did not have consistent housing. This is fewer than the number has been in more than a decade. The last time there were that few homeless people recorded in Lexington was January of 2005, when a one-night census found 882. The number grew substantially during the Great Recession and afterward, and this census represents a serious decline from its peak.
The elected officials of Lexington have been strongly committed to finding housing and other support services for the poorest residents of the city. This program, combined with others such as a widely publicized pilot program that gives indigent residents fair-paying day labor, has done much to reduce extreme need within the city. The director of the Lexington Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention, Ms. Polly Ruddick, has stated that the goal of the program is to make sure that people in the city has access to “safe, decent, affordable housing.” She went on to state that the program hopes to provide this access to every single individual. Although the recent numbers are encouraging, city council candidates such as Arnold Farr have been steadfast in their desire to expand the program until there is no need for anyone in Lexington to be without a home.
Homelessness is a major concern in Southern California. Over 2016, the amount of homeless people in Los Angeles County increased by 23%–meaning that the number jumped to about 57,794 people.
There are efforts being made to build housing for homeless people. However, in many areas there is local opposition against the development of residences for people in such situations.
There is a debate as to whether or not a homeless housing development should be built in Boyle Heights. The proposed housing complex would be built on an empty lot, on Lorena Street and 1st Street. Most of the people in the community, which is predominantly Latino, do not want the housing complex to be built in their area. A City Council committee blocked the passage of a proposal to build this housing complex.
The proposed housing complex would be named Lorena Plaza, and it would hold 49 units. Half of these units would be for mentally ill people. The building would be right next to the Metro Gold Line, as well as a Mexican American cultural institution with shops and a restaurant.
Business owners and citizens in the area oppose the development of the building complex for a variety of reasons. The local business owners claim that, safety-wise, it is not a good idea to build the housing complex. The area would not be very pedestrian friendly. Being so close to the tracks of the Metro Gold Line may pose a safety hazard. Also, there is an abandoned oil well on the lot where Lorena Plaza would be built, and local business owners claim that it might not be safe to build residences on top of such a site.
A non-profit organization called A Community of Friends has been working on pushing the proposal for Lorena Plaza, though they are having a pretty hard time.