The City of Angels has long been the destination for aspiring actors and actresses, film makers, entrepreneurs and young professionals. But with all of the opportunity and dreams that Los Angeles may pride itself on, there is very much an ever growing segment of the population that is overlooked and all too often dismissed by the rich and famous: The homeless.
On Sept. 22, The Los Angeles Times reported that elected Los Angeles city officials announced plans to declare a “state of emergency” in regards to the city’s growing homeless population. Officials plan to commit $100 million to go towards improving services for the homeless, including an expansion in housing. But where that $100 million is going to come from is still a mystery.
There are an estimated 26,000 homeless people living in the city, and a vast majority of that population is living in the streets. And according to Councilman Gilbert Cedillo, the problem goes beyond the infamous Skid Row, it’s realized throughout the entire city and its neighborhoods. “If we want to be a great city that hosts the Olympics and shows itself off to the world, we shouldn’t have 25,000 to 50,000 people sleeping on the streets,” Cedillo said.
Mayor Eric Garcetti agreed: “This city has pushed this problem from neighborhood to neighborhood for too long, from bureaucracy to bureaucracy, pointing fingers.” That’s symptomatic of California politics in general, but that’s a discussion for another time.
While the council promised $100 million to address homelessness throughout the city, Los Angeles already spends nearly $100 million each year in responding to homeless issues. City services, such as emergency responders and park officials, are already vying for funding in their management of the city’s homeless problem. The task at hand is not how to deal with the issue, but how to actively work to eradicate it. “We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars responding to this problem instead of spending money it will take to solve the problem,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian.
Take Utah for example, a state that recently moved to give its homeless population what it really needs: housing. The result? A chronic homelessness problem that is virtually gone. Of course, Los Angeles faces a much more strenuous road to ending its homeless population, a road that may never see an end, especially considering the unprecedented cost of real estate throughout the city.
Since 2013, Los Angeles has seen 12 percent rise in its homeless population, according to the LA Times, an alarming figure for a city contending to host the Olympics.