LOS ANGELES - Addressing the most urgent crisis facing the city in a generation, Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell on Wednesday called on his colleagues at the state level to match the City’s financial commitment to build more permanent housing, and he also introduced a series of motions dedicated to addressing the issue of homelessness and poverty.
O’Farrell hosted a press conference to make the announcement, requesting $1.2B in excess funds from the state, as well as revealing plans to convene the first-ever ‘Summit on Poverty’ in Los Angeles. This event will bring together service providers, local businesses and major corporations with roots in Los Angeles to collaborate on ways to lift people out of poverty to prevent homelessness.
“What we see on a daily basis - the proliferation of homeless encampments - is depressing, outrageous, mind-numbing, and we’ve become way too accustomed to this as normal for our city,” said Councilmember O’Farrell. “As the Chair of the City’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee, I am committed to doing more, which is why I introduced a set of motions to directly address this critical issue so that we can house our homeless residents and lift them out of poverty. This is a humanitarian crisis, and we must insist on doing more.”
Councilmember O’Farrell also introduced several policy items as part of his plan to combat poverty. The 2019 Los Angeles Homeless Count reports an uptick in the number of homeless individuals across the region, and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Executive Director Peter Lynn on Wednesday presented a report on the increase to the full City Council. [Report]
“In my 32-year experience of empowering children and families, as well as providing supportive housing, I am very grateful for the Councilmember’s steadfast commitment in tackling the homelessness epidemic in the City of Los Angeles,” said Faye Washington, president & CEO of YWCA Greater Los Angeles. “The several motions introduced, along with the call to action in receiving $1.2 billion from the state budget surplus will help double on the HHH promise in building over 10,000 additional affordable housing units for Angelenos most in need.”
“As chief program officer and supervisor of outreach for The Center in Hollywood, providing engagement resources and housing for our City’s homeless population has been our priority,” said Rudy Salinas, Chief Programs Officer for The Center in Hollywood. “I am pleased, and relieved, by the initiative that Councilmember O’Farrell is taking in calling on Governor Newsom and legislators to give the City a fraction of the state budget surplus to address a crisis that is in much need of funding and immediate attention.”
Jose Palma was a former client at the bridge housing facility in Hollywood, and recently transitioned into permanent housing. Palma moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to pursue his career as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist. Due to illness, however, he was unable to work which brought on financial hardship and housing insecurity.
“When I got sick, I became immobile. I needed assistance to do common household chores, and when rent was due, I had no money. I ended up living in my car for the next two years,” said Palma. “I sought out any type of assistance and unfortunately, due to disability income, I couldn’t qualify for most programs. Being on the streets, it’s really hard not to feel forgotten. It wasn’t until the Schrader shelter in Hollywood opened up that I found a place to live. Now, I have a house I can call my own. I can become stable and actually pursue my career again.”
The following is a summary of the motions that Councilmember O'Farrell introduced:
Instruct the Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) to convene the first-ever ‘Summit on Poverty’ that will bring together service providers, businesses, and major corporations with roots in Los Angeles to collaborate on ways to lift people out of poverty and keep people from falling into homelessness.
Implement a centralized system under HCID of an affordable housing unit inventory as a convenient tool for Angelenos in need of housing, to be utilized along with the Coordinated Entry System (CES).
Analyze the state’s eviction protection laws that can be adopted in Los Angeles to safeguard tenants’ ability to remain in their homes, and create the strongest eviction protections in California.
Have the Los Angeles City Council support AB 1481, AB 307, AB 1110, AB 960, and AB 143, a packet of resolutions that address homelessness and poverty amongst veterans and youth, as well as focuses on preventing evictions.
The motions and resolutions will be heard in the various committees in the coming weeks.
Since day one, Councilmember O’Farrell has worked tirelessly to implement housing and service programs in the district. O’Farrell was instrumental in opening the first bridge housing facility in the district, which is providing beds for 72 people and a YWCA facility with 60 beds (and soon more than double in size). Plans are underway for permanent housing in Echo Park. Additionally, there is a Safe Parking Program in Hollywood and a pending program set to open at Edendale Library. O’Farrell also expanded the Mobile Pit Stop Program to four stations in his district, which provide restroom facilities.
Since being sworn into office, Councilmember O’Farrell has led the vision on more than 1300 units of affordable housing in the 13th District. The first HHH program in the district at PATH Metro Villas on the East Hollywood-Koreatown border will have a total of 187 units.