Homelessness in LA on the Rise with Solutions on the Horizon – Huffington Post

The money has been pledged, but not sourced. I asked Councilman Mike Bonin of CD11, with whom I work closely on issues of local homelessness, where he thought the money might come from. “While some of the funding will come from cutting back on other areas of the city budget” he said, “I strongly support going to voters.” This month, the LA City Council approved placing a bond measure on the November ballot to make available $1.2 Billion in funding over a 10 year period, if approved. Bonin had suggested proposing a tax on real estate transactions or a fee for demolition or condominium conversions – estimated to net about $90 million per year for homeless housing and services. Recent polls, however, showed that a tax to generate essential dollars for addressing growing city wide homelessness would be less popular than the bond measure. Still others simply want to see government solve homelessness by reallocating resources it already has.

To everyone’s dismay, crime tends to rise in areas where homelessness climbs, says West LAPD Captain, Tina Nieto. When police are dispatched to these areas they check for criminal activity and try to offer services. Many homeless individuals are service resistant. Often times homeless people are cited for low level, quality of life, offenses. The LA City attorney, Mike Feuer, has a program in place to parlay those offenses into a bargaining chip for services. His “Heart” program aims to trade misdemeanor forgiveness for the acceptance of services. This is something he says he can do “unilaterally”, expressing some frustration with the slow pace of the broader unified response. The offer is simple says the City Attorney, “take responsibility for your actions, do some community service and accept services we have on offer right here and now, and we will work with the court to forgive the legal citations.” So far the Heart program has yielded great results, with over 2000 people off the streets. Still, he says, this is just one ingredient. “It must be complemented with an array of other programs”, in order to be effective.

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