The debate over how to spend the money comes as Los Angeles and other areas across California are seeing surges in their homeless populations. Last week, Los Angeles County reported a 12% increase in homeless residents to a total of just fewer than of 59,000 people. Communities across the state have also recently reported double-digit percentage increases in the number of homeless people living in their jurisdictions.
The increase in the City of Los Angeles is reported to be 16 percent, but in some counties the increase is over 25 percent.
Last year, the city received $85 million in state dollars to combat homelessness, setting aside more than half that amount for a proposal to build shelters in each of its 15 City Council districts.
Setting aside more than half that amount? So more than $42.5 million is sitting in some bank account waiting for these proposals (in what's sure to be a corrupt process), CEQA approvals, NIMBY protests, and actual construction to occur while people who need mental health treatment, help with addiction, and a roof over their heads sit on the streets in conditions so unsanitary that medieval diseases are making a comeback?
(That's setting aside the portion of that population that should either be in jail or deported.)
If you need a laugh after that dose of anger, here's a completely not self-aware statement from one of our state's esteemed long-time politicians.
“Cities are on the front lines of homelessness and have a proven track record of success in putting these desperately needed state resources to work getting people off the streets,” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who is leading the mayoral coalition, said in a statement.
He must be drinking from the same cup of Kool-Aid that Gov. Newsom drinks from.
Not to worry, our county governments want their share of your dollars to waste or use to reward their buddies.
But county officials are arguing they should get a piece of the $650-million pie too — an approach embraced by the governor. In April, Newsom met with San Bernardino County leaders and said all governments should get state support to address homelessness.
“Cities, counties and continuums of care are all pivotal players in helping create long-term, sustained solutions to homelessness throughout this state,” Newsom said at the time. “All of us need to have skin in the game, and we need to leverage every available resource — federal, state and local dollars — to fight homelessness across California.”
Obviously the government has a vital role in providing services to people who cannot take care of themselves, such as the mentally ill. These services should be provided through increasing funding to existing mental health, job training, and disability services and building in accountability measures to prevent these people from returning to the streets, and not through throwing money to the cities and counties that have already utterly failed at addressing the crisis.