Los Angeles City Council members Bill Rosendahl and Jan Perry called for formation of an Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness last Friday.
“It is to our shame and dishonor that we do not focus on this problem as we do a war, as we do a natural disaster, as we do a pressing social and moral crisis,” their motion stated. “The scourge of homelessness is all of those things. Here in the City of Los Angeles, we need to do more. Much more. It is now time for the City Council of Los Angeles to focus energy and attention to this problem.”
The motion was referred to the Council’s Rules and Elections Committee. Council President Alex Padilla promised to move swiftly to form the panel. Rosendahl said he hoped Perry, who represents downtown’s Skid Row, would serve as chair.
“Jan Perry has been very proactive in her attempts to help solve the homeless issue in downtown Los Angeles,” Rosendahl said. “I truly admire her leadership.”
Rosendahl spoke often of homelessness during his campaign for office, calling for more services for the homeless, and greater protections for neighborhoods that suffer a diminished quality of life due to the impacts of homelessness.
Rosendahl represents the 11th District, which includes Venice, and he said the neighborhoods near Venice Beach have a large homeless population.
The text of the Perry-Rosendahl motion follows:
M O T I O N
Somewhere in Los Angeles tonight, a teenage mother will flee her boyfriend, and huddle against the elements with a frightened child during a first unfamiliar night on the streets.
Somewhere in Los Angeles tonight, a scarred and forgotten veteran of our armed forces will wrap himself in a tattered blanket and spend a fitful night beneath a freeway overpass.
Somewhere in Los Angeles tonight, an addict will score another fix and drift blissfully out of consciousness, covered in cardboard and newspapers in the doorway of a local business.
Somewhere in Los Angeles tonight, an incoherent victim of mental illness will wander the streets, frightening all those around him as he loudly curses the invisible demons that torment him.
And somewhere in Los Angeles tonight, an unemployed factory worker freshly evicted from his apartment will drive to a darkened street and try to sleep in his car.
These are just a few of the faces of the homeless in our midst. Stark, living reminders of an embarrassing combination of failed social policies, too scare resources, societal indifference and the government’s impotence in the face of complex, multi-jurisdictional problems.
In Los Angeles County, there are an estimated 91,000 homeless people – the largest homeless population for a major metropolitan area in the United States. Of that number, nearly 35,000 are considered chronically homeless. Fewer than 10,000 actually find room in a shelter.
The homeless do not live just on Skid Row. They live on the beach in Venice. They live on the streets of Hollywood. They live near MacArthur Park. They live on the streets of North Hollywood.
It is to our shame and dishonor that we do not focus on this problem as we do a war, as we do a natural disaster, as we do a pressing social and moral crisis. The scourge of homelessness is all of those things.
In recent years, various jurisdictions have moved with a sense of focus and bold experimentation in dealing with the various and sundry issues of homelessness. In San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom has made addressing homelessness a citywide priority. In Santa Monica, Councilman Bobby Shriver has led a charge for new solutions to the decades-old problem. Here in Los Angeles, Sheriff Lee Baca has been a tireless voice demanding action and solutions.
Here in the City of Los Angeles, we need to do more. Much more. It is now time for the City Council of Los Angeles to focus energy and attention to this problem.
I THEREFORE MOVE that the City Council form an Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness.
I FURTHER MOVE that said committee be tasked with the following:
• Evaluating programs addressing homelessness in San Francisco, Santa Monica, and other cities, and making recommendations to the full council for a package of proposals, including timetables, for the City of Los Angeles.
• Examining the potential availability and allocation of Proposition 63 funds to steer mentally ill homeless people into treatment.
• Developing a strategy to lobby the federal government to create more housing and services for homeless veterans at Veterans Administration properties in Los Angeles.
• Developing a comprehensive state and federal legislative program addressing homelessness, targeting available funds in Sacramento and Washington.• Propose a program for expanding the number of shelter beds and shelter locations in Los Angeles.