A state of emergency has been declared in Los Angeles due to the city's growing homeless community. Officials are taking action, however, announcing on Tuesday they will spend nearly $100 million in an effort to resolve the crisis.
According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the number of homeless individuals in the city has increased 12% within the last two years. Currently, there are over 26,000 people living on the streets of the city, and nearly 13,000 in Los Angeles County become homeless each month, according to a recent report from the Economic Roundtable.
"The human suffering that occurs on Skid Row is astonishing - it will literally take your breath away," said Councilman Jose Huizar, co-chair of the Los Angeles Homeless and Poverty Committee, in a speech during the announcement given at City Hall on Tuesday. "That kind of suffering, that kind of desperation, should not be happening in the City of Los Angeles, but it is. It's a humanitarian crisis and a moral shame."
While the city has yet to reveal exactly how the money would be allocated, Mayor Eric Garcetti said it will likely be used on new homeless centers, anti-poverty laws and a system to better track homeless individuals.
Additionally, lawmakers say that declaring the situation to be an emergency would ease certain restrictions on nonprofit organizations and churches that help the community, enabling them to reach more people with services.
"It's time to get real, because this is literally a matter of life and death," Councilman Mike Bonin told the LA Times, explaining that there's been a "collective failure of every level of government to deal with what has been a homeless crisis for generations and is exploding and exacerbating now."
NBC Los Angeles reports that Garcetti, along with the LA County board of supervisors, Home for the Good, the LA Homeless Services Authority and others, are working on a "separate, but coordinated approach" for the plan that will unfold along the coming weeks.
In addition to the one-time $100 million funding proposed by the council, Garcetti is calling for an annual $100 million to fund permanent housing for the homeless and to set up a foundation dedicated to the issue, his office said.
"These are our fellow Angelenos," Garcetti said Tuesday. "[They] have no other place to go, and they're literally here where we work, a symbol of our city's intense crisis."
Both the emergency declaration and the funding will require action by the full City Council.