Homelessness in Los Angeles, CA

L.A.’s homelessness surged 75% in six years. Here’s why the crisis has been decades in the making, By Gale Holland, February 1, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “Some of the poorest people in the city spend their days in the shadow of Los Angeles City Hall, napping on flattened cardboard boxes. On any given day, as many as 20 people take to the City Hall lawn, across the street from LAPD headquarters. They’re there to ‘escape the madness’ in downtown streets, a 53-year-old homeless man named Lazarus said last week. At night, they fan out to doorways or deserted plazas to wait for daybreak. The growth of a homeless day camp at the halls of civic power speaks to the breadth of Los Angeles’ burgeoning homelessness problem…”

Section 8 Housing – Los Angeles, CA

Up to 600,000 expected to apply when L.A. reopens Section 8 housing list this month after 13 years, By Doug Smith, October 1, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Lately, home for Tamara Meeks has been the screened-in back porch of a tiny house behind an apartment building near 66th Street and Compton Avenue. At night she slips into the kitchen to sleep on a mover’s blanket while her two dogs sleep under a car seat on the porch. Her arrangement, with the parents of a friend’s friend, is the latest of a string of temporary arrangements Meeks has made during the 13 years she’s been waiting for a Section 8 housing voucher…”

Prisoner Reentry – Los Angeles, CA

“I tried to assimilate. And I couldn’t:’ Ex-cons struggle to re-enter the workplace. Now L.A. County trying to help, By Nina Agrawal, July 12, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “When Lily Gonzalez was released from Valley State Prison in Chowchilla in 2012, all she wanted to do was put incarceration behind her. She hoped to go back to work, continue her education at Cal State Northridge and reconnect with her 11-year-old daughter. ‘I tried to assimilate,’ she said. ‘And I couldn’t.’  Gonzalez had been convicted of multiple felonies for falsifying signatures on documents — ‘something stupid I did when I was 18 years old,’ she said. Instead of returning to her old life, including a job with the county’s Department of Consumer Affairs, Gonzalez found herself stuck…”

Public Defender Fees – Los Angeles

L.A. County ends public defender ‘registration fee’, By Nina Agrawal, June 6, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to eliminate the $50 ‘registration fee’ that the public defender’s office and other court-appointed counsel may charge defendants before providing them with legal services…”

Lead Poisoning in Children – Los Angeles, CA

Lead poisons children in L.A. neighborhoods rich and poor, By Joshua Schneyer, April 21, 2017, Bangor Daily News: “With its century-old Spanish-style homes tucked behind immaculately trimmed hedges, San Marino, California, is among the most coveted spots to live in the Los Angeles area. Its public schools rank top in the state, attracting families affiliated with CalTech, the elite university blocks away. The city’s zoning rules promote a healthy lifestyle, barring fast food chains. Home values in L.A. County census tract 4641, in the heart of San Marino and 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, can rival those in Beverly Hills. The current average listing price: $2.9 million. But the area has another, unsettling distinction, unknown to residents and city leaders until now: More than 17 percent of small children tested here have shown elevated levels of lead in their blood, according to previously undisclosed L.A. County health data…”

Homelessness in Los Angeles

Homeless people face L.A. crackdown on living in cars, By Gale Holland, January 24, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Los Angeles’ new ordinance on living in cars was billed as a boon to homeless people, making it legal for the first time to park and sleep in half the city’s streets.  But with the measure set to kick in Feb. 6, a new map suggests the law could trigger a crackdown on some of the city’s 28,000 homeless people…”

Homelessness in Los Angeles, CA

A fix for L.A.’s homeless crisis isn’t cheap. Will voters go for $1.2 billion in borrowing?, By Doug Smith, October 20, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “For years, many Los Angeles residents have watched with alarm as homeless encampments spread across the city, from the sidewalks of skid row to alleys in South Los Angeles, behind shopping centers in the Valley and even  on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean.  Next month, voters will have to decide whether these concerns are strong enough to approve a new tax to fight homelessness…”

Homelessness and Housing – Los Angeles, CA

Is the shift to permanent housing making L.A.’s homelessness problem even worse?, By Doug Smith, August 15, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “As Los Angeles grapples with the nation’s worst homelessness problem, experts have almost universally embraced permanent housing as the best approach for lifting people out of homelessness.  The strategy is to quickly re-house those who are able to live independently, and to provide housing with intensive on-site services for chronically homeless people for as long as it takes them to become independent, or for life if needed.  But the shift toward permanent housing has had a cost: As money has been directed away from programs that combine services with shorter-term housing, the region’s homelessness problem has gotten worse…”

High School Graduation Rate – Los Angeles, CA

Crash course in credit recovery yields best-ever graduation rate of 75% for L.A. schools, By Howard Blume and Sonali Kohli, August 10, 2106, Los Angeles Times: “The star of an annual kickoff event for the new school year in Los Angeles was a number: 75%, the highest graduation rate ever tabulated by the nation’s second-largest school system. That achievement, announced by L.A. Unified Supt. Michelle King on Tuesday at Garfield High School, brought acclaim from an audience of administrators and dignitaries, but also led some to wonder again whether such improvement is real.  The milestone represents a breathtaking turnaround between December and June…”

Homelessness in Los Angeles, CA

L.A. sees another sharp rise in homelessness and outdoor tents, By Gale Holland and Peter Jamison, May 4, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “Homelessness increased in the last year in the city and county of Los Angeles, leaving nearly 47,000 people in the streets and shelters despite an intensive federal push that slashed the ranks of homeless veterans by nearly a third, according to figures released Wednesday by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.  Nearly two-thirds of the homeless people tallied countywide, or 28,000, were in the city of Los Angeles, representing an 11% jump in January from a year earlier, a report from the agency stated. The county’s homeless population grew 5.7%.  Homelessness has increased steadily since 2013, as local officials struggle to identify funding for billion-dollar plans they approved this year to solve one of the region’s most intractable problems…”

Foster Youth Welcome Centers – Los Angeles, CA

L.A. County is shutting down troubled centers for foster kids with nowhere else to go, By Garrett Therolf, March 1, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “The waiting rooms for foster youths with nowhere else to go opened with great fanfare several years ago. Known as Youth Welcome Centers, they were hailed by Los Angeles County officials as an important way to address the chronic shortage of foster homes, especially for children hardest to place. They were the only facilities in the county system with a no-refusal policy and quickly became a place for youths who would otherwise be homeless. But in the next few days, the county plans to close both of its centers, acknowledging they didn’t work as intended…”

Programs to Reduce Homelessness

  • Obama will seek $11 billion for homeless families, By Nikita Stewart, February 8, 2016, New York Times: “After making progress in reducing homelessness among veterans, the Obama administration is turning to the larger and more complicated challenge of homelessness among families with young children.  In his 2017 budget, to be presented on Tuesday, President Obama will propose spending $11 billion over the next 10 years to fight family homelessness, a phenomenon that is closely linked to the dearth of affordable housing in New York and other big cities. Of that amount, $8.8 billion would go to housing vouchers and $2.2 billion to more short-term assistance…”
  • L.A. city, county OK homeless plans, but where will the money come from?, By Abby Sewell and Emily Alpert Reyes, February 9, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “In a fresh bid to confront a problem that has confounded lawmakers for decades, Los Angeles city and county officials approved sweeping plans Tuesday aimed at getting thousands of homeless people off the streets.  But one crucial question remains unanswered: Where will most of the money come from…?”

Homeless Youth – Los Angeles, CA

L.A. is working to count a hidden population — homeless young people, By Gale Holland, January 26, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “When Marlon Sibrian turned 18 and aged out of the Los Angeles County foster care system, he had nowhere to go. His social worker dropped him off at the door of a Boyle Heights youth shelter. Sibrian’s time there made it easy for him to recognize the homeless young men amid similarly hoodie-clad and beanie-topped individuals at Union Station…”

Homelessness and Housing

  • States freed to use Medicaid money for housing, By Michael Ollove, November 20, 2015, Stateline: “Communities with big homeless populations are increasingly turning to a strategy known as housing first. The idea: helping chronically homeless people to find a permanent home—and stay in it—is the best way to help them lead stable, healthy lives. The approach has been used in cities like Chicago and Cleveland, as well as in several states, such as Massachusetts, Minnesota and Washington, as local nonprofits have worked to provide both housing and health care to homeless people…”
  • ‘City of shanties’ in L.A. as homeless cluster in urban areas, By James Nash and Esmé E Deprez, November 18, 2015, Bloomberg: “Homelessness is on the rise in many of America’s biggest cities as wealth concentrates in urban centers, elevating rents and squeezing supplies of affordable housing in places like Los Angeles and New York, new federal data show. Homelessness in and around big U.S. cities increased 3 percent this year, even as the nation’s overall rate declined 2 percent, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released Thursday…”
  • In one California community, a different approach to homelessness, By Gloria Goodale, December 1, 2015, Christian Science Monitor: “On a sunny morning in the beachfront community of Pacific Palisades, Steven ‘Boston’ Michaud perches confidently on a large dock tie just above the sand. He waves vaguely at the hills above the Pacific Coast Highway, indicating where he sleeps. ‘It’s up there, but you’ll never see me,’ he says, pointing to his own shadow on the ground, ‘because I’m a shadow and I don’t bother anyone.’ Mr. Michaud is one of about 170 homeless people in Pacific Palisades, an affluent waterfront neighborhood in Los Angeles. Pacific beaches have long been a magnet for the homeless from around the world…”

Homelessness in Los Angeles

L.A. to declare ‘state of emergency’ on homelessness, commit $100 million, By Peter Jamison, David Zahniser and Matt Hamilton, September 25, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “Acknowledging their failure to stem a surge in homelessness, Los Angeles’ elected leaders on Tuesday said they would declare a ‘state of emergency’ and devote up to $100 million to the problem. But they offered few details about where the money would come from or how it would be spent, leaving some to question the effort’s chances of success. The announcement by seven City Council members and Mayor Eric Garcetti was a powerful signal of growing alarm at City Hall over L.A.’s homeless population, which has risen 12% since 2013, the year Garcetti took office. It coincided with a directive from the mayor Monday evening that the city free up an additional $13 million in the coming months to help house people living on the streets…”

Poor Neighborhoods and Sanitation Service – Los Angeles, CA

Many poorer areas of L.A. get less trash service, analysis shows, By Ben Poston and Peter Jamison, August 14, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “On an overcast May morning, city workers picked up abandoned tires, charred furniture and soiled clothes from an alley in South Los Angeles. Neighbors said it was the first time they had seen a city sanitation crew visit the alley off East 108th Street in more than a year. One resident said nails punctured all four tires on her sedan after she drove through. Another paid a contractor to clear the entrance of a blocked driveway. Their complaints point to a broader problem with what many consider to be a basic government service. Since 2010, sanitation crews failed to respond to more than 20% of Los Angeles residents’ requests to remove illegal refuse from sidewalks and alleyways, a Times analysis has found…”

Homelessness in Los Angeles, CA

  • L.A. moves closer to easing limits on seizing homeless people’s belongings, By Gale Holland, June 9, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “The city of Los Angeles moved closer Monday to making it easier to remove homeless people’s belongings from public parks, over opposition from City Councilman Gil Cedillo, who said it was a failed strategy. ‘We have pursued a strategy that does not work,’ Cedillo told the arts, parks, health, aging and river committee, which voted 4 to 1 to approve the new ordinance. ‘The overemphasis on policing is a fetter.’  In 2012, a federal appeals court ruled the city could seize and destroy transients’ possessions only if they posed an immediate threat to public health or were evidence of a crime. The court also required the city to give owners a chance to reclaim their belongings before they are destroyed…”
  • L.A. city homeless committee debuts with calls for restrooms, showers and shelter, By Gale Holland, June 19, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “The Los Angeles City Council’s new homeless committee kicked off Thursday with members calling for the city to provide showers, restrooms and emergency shelter to help indigents survive in the streets with dignity. At the committee’s inaugural meeting, members also discussed developing transitional and bridge lodgings for homeless people while they await permanent lodging, new storage facilities for their possessions and parking lots for people who live in their cars…”

Homelessness in Los Angeles

Los Angeles confronts a spike in homelessness amid prosperity, By Adam Nagourney, June 12, 2015, New York Times: “Construction cranes dot the sky from Century City to the Sunset Strip. Once-downtrodden blocks in downtown and Venice are bustling with restaurants, coffee shops, sparkling new condominiums, theaters and office construction. The unemployment rate has dropped to almost half its double-digit high of five years ago. Much of Los Angeles these days seems the portrait of prosperity.  But a sweeping census of the homeless population in Los Angeles County released last month came as a jolting rebuke to the charities and officials who have proclaimed a mission to end the region’s stubborn problem of people living on the streets. Their numbers spiked 12 percent in two years, cementing Los Angeles’s reputation of having the most intractable homeless problem in the nation — and of being a place of unsettlingly stark class contrasts, on display every day with a staggering number of people living around the clock on the streets, without the extensive network of temporary overnight shelters provided in other places like New York City…”

Minimum Wage – Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles’ minimum wage on track to go up to $15 by 2020, By Peter Jamison, David Zahniser and Alice Walton, May 19, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday backed a plan to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, joining a trend sweeping cities across the country as elected leaders seek to boost stagnating pay for workers on the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder. Lawmakers agreed to draft an ordinance raising the $9-an-hour base wage to $15 by 2020 for as many as 800,000 workers, making L.A. the largest city in the nation to adopt a major minimum-wage hike. Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle already have approved similar increases, and raising the federal minimum wage has moved to the forefront of the Democratic Party’s agenda…”

Homelessness – Los Angeles, CA

  • Homelessness up 12% in L.A. city and county, By Gale Holland and Soumya Karlamangla, May 11, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “The homeless population jumped 12% in the last two years in both the city and county of Los Angeles, driven by soaring rents, low wages and stubbornly high unemployment, according to a report released Monday.  In one of the most striking findings, the number of tents, makeshift encampments and vehicles occupied by homeless people soared 85%, to 9,535, according to biennial figures from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority…”
  • As homelessness climbs in L.A., a search for solutions, By Soumya Karlamangla, May 12, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “The findings released Monday that Los Angeles County’s homeless population rose 12% since 2013 reflect a setback in the region’s recently heightened efforts to stem homelessness.   But city and county officials had no shortage of ideas about how to fix the problem…”