Juan Ortiz caminó entre la multitud el lunes por la mañana sintiéndose emocionado y agradecido de ser parte de la ceremonia de apertura de Teague Terrace, un nuevo proyecto de vivienda de apoyo permanente.
Pero sobre todo, Ortiz estaba contento de tener un lugar al cual ahora puede llamar hogar.
Él vive en uno de los 56 apartamentos en el nuevo complejo habitacional localizado en la frontera de Glassell Park y Eagle Rock en el noreste de Los Ángeles, el cual abrió sus puertas en agosto.
Read this article in English: Help Starts With A Home
Ortiz le dijo a EGP que la depresión y otras enfermedades lo llevaron a perder su casa, su negocio de panadería y su familia. Pasó más de dos años viviendo en las calles de Long Beach, hasta que un trabajador social le ayudó a reintegrarse a la sociedad.
El edificio Teague Terrace, de aproximadamente $18 millones de dólares, es el segundo proyecto de vivienda asequible permanente (PSH en inglés) construido por desarrolladores de la organización sin fines de lucro Mujeres Organizando Recursos, Conocimientos y Servicios (WORKS en inglés). Los socios de la organización junto a otros grupos se aseguran que las personas no sólo tengan un techo donde vivir, sino también obtengan los servicios necesarios para hacer la transición de desamparados a inquilinos.
“Estamos encantados de que esta vivienda de apoyo permanente está haciendo lo que en realidad fue designada para hacer, proveer hogar a personas que anteriormente no tenían un techo y otras con necesidades especiales, sobre todo en un barrio que ha visto el impacto sin precedentes de la gentrificación en todos los niveles socioeconómicos”, Channa Grace presidenta de WORKS dijo el lunes.
Para Kathryne Church y Ricky Shapley, el obtener las llaves de su apartamento en el cuarto piso del edificio ha sido “increíble”. La pareja dijo que vivió en su carro por más de un año antes de mudarse a Teague Terrace.
“Todavía no lo puedo creer que tengo un apartamento,” Church le dijo a EGP con una gran sonrisa mientras mostraba sus amenidades. “Estamos muy contentos de tener nuestro hogar”, añadió Shapley.
Cada uno de los apartamentos está amueblado con una cama, un sofá, un refrigerador y una estufa. Los inquilinos también recibieron algunas ollas y sartenes, artículos de higiene y otros servicios básicos que los indigentes en las calles no tienen.
“Es bien dicho que el verdadero trabajo comienza cuando alguien obtiene una casa”, dijo César López, un líder de equipo con Housing Works, una agencia de servicio social asociada con WORKS que proporciona servicios de apoyo y enriquecimiento.
Desde el momento que las personas se mudan a un hogar necesitan ayuda con todo, desde los muebles hasta la comida. Les enseñamos qué comprar y qué no comprar, dijo López.
La mayoría de los inquilinos reciben algún tipo de ayuda o beneficio del gobierno, tales como seguro social, seguros por discapacidad, vales de vivienda de Sección 8 u otro estipendio para ayudar a pagar el alquiler, dijo.
Como parte de la transición de indigentes a inquilinos, los trabajadores sociales les enseñan a las personas cómo manejar su dinero, pagar el alquiler y lo que tienen que hacer para mantener su vivienda.
“Pueden vivir en Teague Terrace durante el tiempo que quieran, siempre y cuando cumplan con su contrato de arrendamiento y estén al día con la actualización de su documentación cada año con la Autoridad de Vivienda”, explicó López.
Tanto la supervisora del Condado de Los Ángeles Hilda Solís y el concejal de la ciudad de Los Ángeles Gil Cedillo representan el noreste y ambos estuvieron presentes el lunes para la ceremonia oficial de inauguración del complejo habitacional.
Cedillo llama al proyecto de vivienda “elegante, bien construido y algo de lo que inquilinos se pueden sentir orgullosos”.
“Estoy emocionado de saber que las personas no sólo están recibiendo un techo sobre sus cabezas, sino también por la calidad del compromiso por parte de organizaciones no lucrativas y los servicios sociales para ayudar [a los residentes]”, aseveró.
“Realmente tenemos que llamar estado de emergencia a la falta de vivienda y dejar de actuar como si se tratara de un negocio”, agregó el concejal, quien en septiembre se unió al alcalde Eric Garcetti y seis compañeros miembros del consejo para anunciar el plan de la ciudad que dedicará $100 millones de dólares para reducir el número de indigentes en las calles de la ciudad.
La población de indigentes en la ciudad y el condado de Los Ángeles ha aumentado 12% desde el 2013, según la Autoridad de Servicios para Desamparados de Los Ángeles (LAHSA).
“La falta de vivienda se ha convertido en una palabra muy importante en nuestro vocabulario”, dijo Solís a la multitud. “Pero queremos tener viviendas asequibles a disposición de todas las personas que lo necesiten en condado de Los Ángeles”.
Hay una necesidad de más de 500 mil unidades asequibles en el condado, incluyendo más de 80.000 para albergar a las personas sin hogar, dijo Solís.
Proyectos de vivienda de apoyo permanente como Teague Terrace están haciendo un pequeño pero importante aporte a ese número.
Sharon Lowe, funcionaria de proyectos especiales con Cedillo, le dijo a EGP que la oficina del concejal ayudó a WORKS a identificar las áreas tóxicas que necesitaban remediación y a asegurar la iluminación necesaria en la calle afuera del edificio.
Cumplir con las metas de tiempo es especialmente importante cuando se trata de construir una vivienda asequible, y si enfrentan problemas, podría “poner en peligro su financiación y los plazos para la construcción”, aseveró Lowe.
El edificio alberga a 39 personas que fueron indigentes incluyendo algunos veteranos, personas con discapacidades de desarrollo y personas que están siendo ayudados por el Departamento de Servicios de Salud (DHS). Los otros dieciséis residentes son personas mayores de bajos ingresos o pequeñas familias cuyos ingresos están por debajo del Ingreso Mediano de $1,300 por mes para una persona, dijo López.
Ortiz de 58 años de edad le dijo a EGP que está trabajando en recuperarse de su depresión para estar bien de nuevo.
“Estoy muy feliz, que hay mucha gente buena que me ayuda”, concluyó.
Juan Ortiz walked through the crowd Monday morning feeling emotional and grateful to be part of the ceremony opening of Teague Terrace, a new permanent supportive housing project.
Most of all, he was glad to have a place to call home.
Ortiz lives in one of 56 apartment units in the new housing complex in the border of Glassell Park and Eagle Rock, which actually opened its doors in August.
Lea este artículo en Español: Veteranos, Indigentes Y Personas de Bajos Recursos Encuentran Nuevo Hogar
Ortiz told EGP depression and other illnesses caused him to lose his home, bakery business and his family. He spent more than two years living on the streets of Long Beach, until a social worker helped him get back on his feet.
The approximately $18 million Teague Terrace is the second Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) community built by nonprofit developer Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge and Services (WORKS). The nonprofit partners with other groups to make sure people not only have a roof over their heads, but also receive the services they need to make the transition from homelessness to tenant.
“We are delighted that this permanent supportive housing is now doing what it was developed to do, house formerly homeless persons and other special needs populations, especially in a neighborhood that has seen the unprecedented impact of gentrification on all income categories,” said WORKS President Channa Grace Monday.
For Kathryne Church and Ricky Shapley, getting the keys to their fourth floor apartment has been “unbelievable.” The couple said they had been living in their car for over a year before moving into Teague Terrace.
“I still can’t believe I have an apartment,” Church told EGP with a big smile. “We are very happy to have our home,” added Shapley.
Each of the apartments is furnished with a bed, sofa, refrigerator and stove. Tenants also received some pots and pans, toiletries and other basic amenities that people living on the streets often go without.
“It’s well said that the real works starts when somebody gets a house,” said Cesar Lopez, a team leader with Housing Works, a social service agency partnering with WORKS to provide on-site supportive and enrichment services.
From the moment people move in they need help with everything, from furniture to groceries, he explained. We teach them what to buy and what not to buy, Lopez said.
Most tenants receive some type of government aid or benefit, such as social security, disability insurance, Section 8 Housing Voucher or other stipend to help pay for their rent, he said.
As part of the transition from homeless to housed, social workers teach the new tenants how to manage their money, pay their rent and what they need to do tp keep their housing.
“They can live at Teague Terrace for as long as they like, as long as they abide by their lease agreement and stay current with updating their paperwork yearly with the Housing Authority,” Lopez explained.
Both Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis and L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo represent Northeast LA and both were on hand Monday for the development’s official opening blessing and ceremony.
Cedillo called the housing project elegant, well-built and something tenants can have pride in.
“I’m so excited to know that people are not only getting a roof over their heads but also of the quality of the commitment from nonprofits and social services to help [residents],” he said.
“We really need to call homelessness a state of emergency and stop acting as if it is a business,” said Cedillo, who back in September joined Mayor Eric Garcetti and six fellow council members to announce the city’s plan to dedicate $100 million to help reduce the number of homeless on city streets.
The homeless population in LA city and county has risen 12% since 2013, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
“Homelessness has become a very important word in our vocabulary,” Sup. Solis told the crowd. “But we want to make affordable housing available for all people that need it in LA County.”
There’s a need for over 500 thousand affordable units in the county, including over 80 thousand needed to house the homeless, Solis said.
Permanent supportive housing projects like Teague Terrace are making a small but important dent in that number.
The facility houses 39 formerly homeless people including some veterans, people with developmental disabilities and people who are being helped by the Dept. of Health Services. The other sixteen residents are either low-income seniors or small families whose income is at or falls below he Area Median Income, which is $1,300 per month for a single individual, said Lopez.
Fifty-eight-year-old Ortiz told EGP he’s working on recovering from his depression and to be OK again.
“I’m very happy, there’s a lot of good people that help me.”
A white, approximately 62-year-old male was found dead Wednesday night near Hermon Dog Park in Northeast Los Angeles, authorities said.
The man, a known transient in the area who went by the nickname “Mr. White,” was found dead around 8pm by a caretaker, said Officer Austin Fernald with the Los Angeles Police Department Hollenbeck Division. The caretaker called police, who responded to the 6500 block of Monterey Road in Hermon.
Apparently he died of natural causes, but the investigation is ongoing, Fernald told EGP.
The incident does not appear to be connected to the killing of two women whose bodies were found at Debs Park on Oct. 28, said Fernald.
The County and City of Los Angeles have begun to pay more attention to the many needy veterans living in our communities.
Tragically, many of this country’s veterans are homeless and suffer from PTSD, but find it hard to get the help they need, whether it’s housing, medical attention or mental health services.
The pledge by local officials to provide millions of dollars to fund the creation of temporary and permanent supportive housing for homeless vets is long overdue.
It’s easy to honor and admire veterans who have returned home as heroes and have managed to recover from their war experience and adjust to civilian life.
It’s not as easy to pick up and help those who have returned with broken minds, bodies and spirits.
But as a country, we have an obligation to help those who serve in our military branches and put their lives on the line to protect us from our enemies abroad and the threat of terrorism here at home.
The situation for our Vets, whether they served in wars of long ago or recently, continues to deteriorate at an astounding and shameful pace. It seems to us that before we can truly begin to help, we have to answer some very crucial questions about how we got to this point.
How is it that we allowed our military personnel to separate from the various branches of the Armed Forces without knowing if they are in need of counseling, or whether they have a home, job, and more importantly, a family to return to?
Unless we take the time to answer that question, we will continue down the same path. It’s a path which leads too many returning vets to commit suicide, become homeless and stay unemployed.
So on November 11, when we observe Veterans Day, take a moment to reflect on what you can do to make a difference in the life of a veteran, give thanks for their service and give them the respect they deserve.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council members and county supervisors met Tuesday with U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro to discuss homelessness, hailing the current level of city and county collaboration as unprecedented.
“It’s wonderful to see not only the breadth of commitment … but the depth of brain power here,” Garcetti said.
Castro highlighted the importance of finding solutions to a problem that has made Los Angeles what the mayor and others referred to as the “homeless capital of America.”
“As goes L.A., so goes the nation,” the HUD secretary said.
The meeting was intended as an exchange of ideas, and Castro told the crowd assembled at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration in downtown Los Angeles that he was “here to listen.”
However, he did take time to remind the policymakers that “criminalizing homelessness is not the best approach.”
Advocates for the homeless agreed, saying the city was still directing resources into bad police tactics.
“Blacks, browns are going to jail for being homeless,” community organizer Steve Diaz of Los Angeles Community Action Network told officials.
On an earlier trip, Castro toured South Los Angeles with Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, where, the councilman said, “every time we stopped at a stoplight there was an encampment.”
Harris-Dawson said the type of homelessness varied from community to community, highlighting the difficulty of addressing a problem so big that both city and county officials have made recent $100 million commitments to tackling it.
No major new announcements were made, but policymakers asked for federal help and highlighted several potential solutions.
Supervisor Michael Antonovich called for reforms to mental health laws.
“Over 90 percent refuse treatment,” Antonovich said of a program to reach out to people sleeping on benches at Metro bus and train stations.
Using healthcare dollars to help pay for housing was another idea mentioned by several officials as a logical next step in a policy of “housing first.” Most policymakers now favor providing housing with supportive services as first step, rather than requiring treatment as a threshold to housing eligibility.
Garcetti said the federal government can only do so much.
“We can’t look for anybody on a white horse to ride in,” Garcetti said.
But many indicated that there is more that HUD can do, from issuing more vouchers for veterans to changing its method of allocating funding.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said Los Angeles County was being “punished” under HUD rules because regional housing costs are going up, driving up the number of transient individuals despite strides made in housing the homeless.
A countywide count has shown a 12 percent jump over the past two years in the number of homeless people living in the city and county of Los Angeles.
More than 44,000 homeless people were tallied around the county in January and 70 percent of those were “unsheltered” and living on the streets, according to county CEO Sachi Hamai.
City Councilman Mike Bonin said it would take two to three years “at minimum” to find permanent housing for many of those currently living on the streets and called on Castro to provide a broader range of tools to help in the interim.
“The policy is effectively sidewalks first,” Bonin said, asking Castro “to be our cavalry.”
Castro said the federal government would take comments in the spring on a new formula for allocating aid to states.
But, Garcetti said, “government can’t end homelessness alone,” pointing to what he said were 533 veterans living on the streets with vouchers in hand because they can’t find a place to live.
Harris-Dawson cited the city’s land use authority as a “big chip” in addressing homelessness. Land use, including the ability to adjust zoning and permitting processes to encourage more affordable housing, is just one of nine policy issues being debated by the Homeless Initiative set up by Los Angeles County.
Employment, street outreach and Affordable Care Act opportunities are among the policy points being debated by county and city officials as they work toward a comprehensive plan.
Hamai said Tuesday she hoped a draft report from the Homeless Initiative would be available in December. A full set of recommendations is expected in February.
Supervisor Hilda Solis also raised concerns about an anticipated record- setting El Nino, even as city and county officials move to increase access to winter shelter beds.
“We need help from FEMA,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Solis told Castro, citing a rash of homeless individuals living in watershed areas that will be potential flood danger zones in major storms.
Attorneys said Wednesday they may take legal action if Los Angeles city leaders fail to rescind a recently adopted ordinance that makes it easier and faster for the city to dismantle homeless encampments and confiscate transients’ belongings.
Attorneys for the Los Angeles Community Action Network – a Skid Row-based organization that advocates for low-income and homeless people – sent a 17-page letter on Tuesday to city officials detailing their concerns about the ordinance, which they say is “unconstitutional” and contains the “same legal defects” of an earlier law that was struck down in court.
The measure shortened the noticing period from 72 hours to 24 hours before belongings on sidewalks and other public areas can be confiscated and imposes criminal penalties for non-compliance.
“We urge you to withdraw the ordinance and avoid subjecting the city to ongoing legal liability,” attorneys from Munger, Tolles & Olson and Public Counsel wrote.
The letter was sent to Councilmen Jose Huizar and Maqueence Harris-Dawn, co-chairs of the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, which was meeting Wednesday to discuss proposed amendments to the ordinance.
Rob Wilcox, spokesman for City Attorney Mike Feuer, said the office is “currently analyzing the letter.”
The ordinance was adopted by the City Council earlier this year and went into effect in July without Mayor Eric Garcetti’s signature.
LACAN activists urged Garcetti to veto the ordinance, but the mayor responded that he had assurances from the City Council that it would amend the measure. He also said he instructed city officials to suspend enforcement of the law until the amendments are in place.
The activists maintain that Garcetti has limited authority to put enforcement on hold, and LACAN’s attorneys said Wednesday the proposed amendments now being considered will not sufficiently improve the ordinance.
The ordinance “is unconstitutional and the proposed amendments do nothing to change that fact,” LACAN’s attorneys wrote. “The City Council should reconsider and rescind its passage of the ordinance as soon as possible and consider means to address the problem that are humane as well as constitutional.”
The attorneys contend the law will lead to the “unreasonable” seizure of personal belongings, and a “proposed amendment removing specific reference in the definition of ‘Personal Property’ to ‘personal items such as luggage, backpacks, clothing, documents and medication, and household items’ will have absolutely no legal effect.”
“Such items will still constitute ‘tangible property’ and personal property as that term is understood in our laws,” the attorneys wrote, adding that the ordinance would also allow “the confiscation of medication and critical documents.”
“By seizing those possessions, the city affirmatively places homeless people in danger and exposes itself to danger-creation liability,” according to the attorneys, who also maintain that provisions for notifying people before items are confiscated are “constitutionally deficient.”
The ordinance would make failing to comply with the ordinance “even when compliance is impossible” a criminal act, the attorneys say, and would also lead to “severe consequences for immigrants, in particular for those otherwise eligible to seek deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA); family members of citizens and permanent residents seeking adjustment of status; and applicants for naturalization.”
The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday gave tentative approval to rules for dismantling homeless encampments and removing personal property left on sidewalks and in city parks.
Under the current process, the city gives 72 hours notice before removing personal items. The two ordinances tentatively backed by the council Tuesday would shorten the notice period to 24 hours, and the city would be required to store the belongings for 90 days.
If the items are not claimed, the property may be discarded.
No notice would be needed for the removal of bulky items from sidewalks and parks, under the rules.
One of the ordinances applies specifically to items left at city parks. It would allow officials to remove personal items that remain at city parks — including beaches — past closing time and when there is already a sign at the park stating that leaving behind items is prohibited.
If there is no sign, the city would need to give 24 hours notice before items are removed.
A second ordinance for sidewalks would ban tents from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. but would allow the homeless to set up tents to use as shelter at night.
If the city does not have enough space to store the items left on sidewalks, officials would not be allowed to remove them, city attorneys said.
Under both ordinances, any item that is a health or safety risk — such as something that could spread disease, contains vermin, or is a dangerous weapon — would be discarded without any advance notice. Items considered contraband or evidence of a crime could also be removed by the city without notice, under the rules.
The ordinances are being considered as city officials work to reach a settlement in an ongoing lawsuit filed against the city by several homeless people. The case led to an injunction that prevents the city from removing the belongings of the homeless.
Councilman Jose Huizar said getting rid of the injunction “is a critical piece in getting a better handle” on homelessness in the city. The city has also put more money into homelessness response teams and sanitation crews, he said, adding that “we’ve got to build more housing.”
“But in the meantime it’s important for us to move forward and settle (the lawsuit), and get a better ordinance that would deal with items improperly left on public rights of way,” Huizar said.
He added that he is “not too comfortable with the timing” of the ordinances, “but we do have court requirements, settlement discussions that are happening, so we have to move forward with something.”
“I don’t think it’s a perfect ordinance,” he said, and he hopes to further discuss the rules in the City Council’s newly formed homeless committee, which will hold its first meeting later this month.
He said the rules adopted Tuesday would “establish some conditions” so the city can reach a settlement in the lawsuit, but he hopes to adjust them to “strike a better balance” between the rights of the homeless and residents concerned about safety and cleanliness.
Last month, Assistant City Attorney Valerie Flores told the city’s Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee the current rules for removing items are too broad, and make it a “crime to leave personal belongings on a sidewalk.”
Flores said the new rules would “strike a balance by decriminalizing certain homeless individuals who need to set their belongings down, versus … the current ordinance which makes every placing of the items on the sidewalk considered a crime.”
Councilman Mike Bonin, who will chair the homelessness committee, said that because of the city’s inability to deal with homelessness over the past 10 years, “we are now a city of encampments.”
City officials said the latest homeless count in Los Angeles County found there was a 12 percent increase in the homeless population, and an 85 percent jump in the “number of tents, makeshift encampments” and “vehicles occupied by homeless people.”
Bonin said the new rules succeed in that they shorten the notification period and no longer make it a crime just to set an item down in public.
But he said the ordinance fails because it makes it “too easy to seize someone’s personal belongings, such as prescriptions and their personal documents,” while also not being strong enough to allow the city to clear public walkways in order to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Since the votes were not unanimous, with Councilman Gil Cedillo casting the lone dissenting vote, the ordinances backed Tuesday must return to the council for a final vote.
Council members also introduced amendments to the ordinances Tuesday, mostly to refine them and further define what is considered a “bulky item,” which the city would be allowed to remove immediately, under the rules.
Those proposals will be considered by the homelessness committee.
Homeless advocates who gathered outside Los Angeles City Hall Tuesday spoke out against the new rules, saying the city should do more to provide housing instead of spending money to build storage facilities to hold the belongings of the homeless.
The city currently stores confiscated items in downtown’s Skid Row area.
Struggling to push the bicycle loaded with his belongings along the bumpy path carved out of the brush next to the Arroyo Seco channel in Highland Park last week, a homeless man grumbled he was being forced to leave the encampment that was his home.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do! I don’t know where I’m going to go,” he said as he pushed his bike through a hole cut in the wire-mesh fencing next to the Avenue 57 exit on the Arroyo Seco Parkway-110 Pasadena Freeway.
Lea este artículo en Español: Indigentes Son Removidos del Canal de Arroyo Seco
He was one of more than two-dozen homeless people removed from illegal encampments located between Avenues 52 and 57; invisible to many of the drivers on the freeway.
But to residents living nearby, the network of knotted tarps, tents, clothes hanging from the bushes and fencing and growing piles of trash are not only an eyesore, they’re a public safety issue.
They demanded that the city clean up the area and move the homeless out.
In response, on May 25, as required by law, the city posted signs notifying encampment dwellers that they had three days to leave and remove their belongings before the city starts clearing the area on May 28.
The city’s departments of public works, parks and recreation, officers from the Hollenbeck and Northeast police divisions and the of Councilman Gil Cedillo (CD1), coordinated the cleanup.
County mental health workers and employees with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) were also called in to assist anyone wanting help: there were no takers.
“CD1 takes these complaints seriously,” Cedillo told EGP in an email. “The intent was not only to ensure the safety and livability for the surrounding community, but to also offer homeless services to the individuals living in the encampments and to get them connected with valuable social services,” he said.
About 30 people were living in the 17 encampments along the Arroyo, according to public works spokesman Jimmy Tokeshi. He said it took a day and a half to clear the 18 tons of trash and debris removed from the third-of-a-mile stretch along the freeway.
How to best deal with Los Angeles’ homeless population has sparked increased debate in recent months, from calls for more police enforcement to building more affordable housing.
Residents watching the cleanup such as Wendy Riser, said they’ve heard that some of the homeless in those encampments at some point were residents of Highland Park, but ended up on the streets because of different situations such as loosing their jobs, increase of rent, mental illness or drugs.
Several homeless in Northeast L.A. neighborhoods like Highland Park, Montecito Heights, Eagle Rock and Cypress Park have ties to the community, including family and friends who live nearby.
That was the case last week when a young woman, seeing the clearing underway, ran to the encampment in search of her mother who she told police had been living there with a boyfriend.
She wanted to know if her mother was ok, explained LAPD Officer Oscar Cassini. It’s not uncommon for relatives to know that a loved one is living at one of the homeless encampments, to keep track of them there, he said.
Some people might find that shocking, but there are lots of reasons why someone can’t take in the homeless person, Cassini said, referring to cases of mental illness or heavy drug use.
The number of people in Los Angeles living in “tents, makeshift shelters, and vehicles increased by 85% from 2013” when the number was 5,335,to 9,535 today, according to the recently released results of LAHSA’s 2015 Homeless Countdown.
Skyrocketing housing costs are a big part of the problem, claim affordable housing advocates.
According to LAHSA’s report, California’s lowest-income households spend about two-thirds of their income on housing.
The 2014 USC Casden Forecast reported that as of December 2014, the average monthly rent in the Los Angeles region was $1,716, making L.A. one of the top 10 most expensive places to rent in the U.S.
Outreach staff sent to last week’s encampment clearing spoke with 18 men and 7 women but were unable to get them to accept services, LAHSA Spokesperson Eileen Bryson told EGP by email. “Most of the encamped homeless dwellers were preoccupied with managing their personal items during the clean up,” she said.
According to Officer Cassini, many refuse offers to be placed in a shelter because they don’t like to “follow the rules.”
“Some of them do drugs and in the shelters you can’t do that,” he said, moments after taking one of the homeless men into custody on an outstanding warrant.
Bryson said crews removed a large number of illegal and dangerous items such as 117 hypodermic needles, 50 aerosol cans and 17 propane tanks.
Animal Control Services remove three chickens and a cat, she said.
Caltrans had to disconnect power lines illegally connected to light poles along the 110 Freeway, providing electricity to 6 of the encampments, Bryson said.
A passerby walking his dog found the removal activity troubling. Moving the homeless will not solve the problem, it’s “just a band aid,” said Christopher. There must be a better solution.
Cleanup of other encampments between Via Marisol and Bridewell Street along the Arroyo Seco channel started this week should be finished today, according to Tokeshi.
Crews will remove “trash and bulky items, and when appropriate store property found in the cleanup area within the framework of the court decisions aimed at protecting individual rights,” he said.
The 2015 Homeless Count report from LAHSA found that there are 25,686 people in the City of Los Angeles with no homes. In CD1 there are nearly 2,000.
An article by Jacqueline Garcia in today’s edition about the problems of many homeless living in the Arroyo Seco in Highland Park points out that even when offered services that could lead to a place to live, many of the homeless will refuse assistance.
That was the case this last week when dozens of homeless men and women were evicted from shoddy, makeshift encampments along the Arroyo Seco river channel and Pasadena Freeway.
Plagued by drug and alcohol addition, mental illness and just plain old distrust of others, it wasn’t surprising that they wanted no part of the help being offered by outreach workers trained to work with the homeless.
Some of the homeless fear their problems will keep them from being able to live with a partner or refuse a place to live because they don’t want to follow the socially acceptable rules they would be required to follow.
As true as it may be that many will continue to refuse help, it’s no reason for the rest of us to write the homeless off or to just shrug our shoulders and think nothing more can be done if they don’t want help.
The problem of homelessness is a problem that affects us all and it’s in all our interests – as a civilized society- to find the means and the resources to reduce the number of people living on the street.
Because the homeless live outside the box, we have to start thinking outside the box. Not every home has to be made up of rooms of four walls, there are other alternatives.
What about areas permitted for year-round tents, or small manufactured igloos where they could live alone, but still have shelter? There could be communal public restrooms and trash facilities, access to health and social services.
We recognize that there are potentially many problems with this idea and there’s no guarantee that tent or igloo dwellers will abide by the rules in this type of setting any more than they did while living on the street.
The point here is that we have great creative minds living among us who are finding solutions to all types of problems, innovating changes to make life better, why can’t we put some of those minds to work on the homeless issue?
It’s what we do for our pets, shouldn’t we give at least the same consideration to our fellow human beings
The number of homeless people living in a vast swath of Los Angeles County jumped by 16 percent over the past two years, according to figures released Tuesday by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
The agency’s biennial Homeless Count, which was conducted in January and excluded the cities of Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach, found 41,174 homeless people in the county, up from 35,524 in 2013. Despite the increase, the number of homeless veterans remained essentially flat, going from 4,007 in 2013 to 4,016 this year.
“The demand for homeless assistance has increased in Los Angeles and several recent studies have confirmed our region’s housing and affordability crisis,” said Peter Lynn, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. “We are working diligently to target resources and interventions to create a sustainable, systemic infrastructure to house our homeless neighbors.”
“No growth in veteran homelessness demonstrates the positive impact of increased federal and local resources to house homeless veterans, but shows a serious challenge of new veterans becoming homeless,” he said. “Los Angeles has housed 7,500 veterans since 2013, but we will need to increase that rate to end veteran homelessness.”
The homeless count, which was carried out thanks to more than 5,500 volunteers who fanned out across the county, found that nearly 29,000 homeless people were not in shelters. According to LAHSA, when Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach figures are added, the county’s overall increase in homelessness from 2013 was 12 percent.
The issue of homelessness was thrust into the forefront by a pair of fatal police shootings of homeless men in Los Angeles – May 5 in the Venice area and on March 1 on downtown’s Skid Row.
“This is a combination of a policing issue and a homelessness issue,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “We’ve seen two incidents in which homeless individuals with a history of mental health challenge have lost their lives on our streets, and I think that we need to own that.”
A recent report found that the city spends as much as $100 million on homeless issues, but without a system for coordinating the programs.
“This year in my budget we have put 10 outreach teams to deal with mental health and other things in a county that only has seven total.”
Garcetti said. “So we’re going to go to 17 just based on the city’s contribution to the Homeless Services Authority to be able to go out there and really interact with those individuals and try and get them off the streets and into continuing care.
“Despite complete slashes from the federal government and the elimination of affordable housing funds from the state, we put more money into our own affordable housing trust fund to build housing to get homeless people off the streets – $10 million that we put in on top of the almost $20 million from last year,” he said.