Los Angeles to declare 'state of emergency' on homelessness

Homeless people in Los Angeles.
(Image credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

The city of Los Angeles plans to declare a "state of emergency" on homelessness and will dedicate $100 million to use toward housing and other services for the homeless.

The proposal was announced Tuesday by city leaders, one day after Mayor Eric Garcetti's office issued a proposal to use $13 million in anticipated excess tax revenue for short-term housing initiatives, the Los Angeles Times reports. An estimated 26,000 homeless people live in L.A., with a majority on the streets. "It's not a Skid Row problem," Councilman Gilbert Cedillo told the Times. "It's a problem that's proliferated throughout the city. 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."

A report released five months ago by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, the city's top budget advisor, estimated that Los Angeles spends more than $100 million a year on issues related to homelessness. Much of those costs are absorbed by the LAPD, but they're borne by other agencies as well, like parks, paramedic services, street maintenance, and libraries — an average of 680 to 780 homeless people are believed to visit each of the city's 73 libraries daily. Garcetti said Tuesday that homelessness has been a "heartbreaking crisis" in Los Angeles for decades, and it's time to "tackle it head-on."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.