Mayor Eric Garcetti says homelessness in the city is due to economic and racial woes, and he’s teaming with Heidi Marston, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority executive director, and Kirk Patrick Tyler, Skid Row Strategy director, to help combat the problem.
Garcetti discussed the problem during his regular press conferences last week. It was in response to the homeless count. (See related story.)
Throughout the pandemic, the city of Los Angeles brought nearly 6,000 homeless people indoors. The goal is to make sure the people experiencing homelessness remain housed.
To prevent people from becoming homeless, Garcetti wrote a letter to the chief justice of the Supreme Court of California urging the judicial council to keep California’s eviction moratorium in place to protect tenants.
“None of this is easy. None of this is uncontroversial. But leadership demands that we step forward in these moments,” Garcetti said.
Furthermore, Garcetti referenced a Lassa report on how institutional racism is a leading cause of homelessness in the city of Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, where 8% to 9% of the population is African American, a third of all people experiencing homelessness are black.
“If we want to see homelessness go down we have to address racism across the country and continue to hold up the truth that behind every number, every methodology, and percentage point, is a person, a life, and a story that matters and should be told,” Marston said.
With all of that in mind, the City of Los Angeles and Lassa continue to perform better as a system, with the number of people who have moved indoors has significantly increased. More than 6,000 people have been prevented from becoming homeless. More than 22,000 people moved into permanent housing, permanently resolving their homelessness. To continue this effort, Marston called for systemic changes in the housing supply, the economy, the health care system, and the legal system. All of this would be to advance “racial justice and to stem the inflow into homelessness,” said Marston. “Lassa is committed to thinking bigger and bolder and we will not stop until all of our unhoused Angelenos are brought home.”
Tyler, who also heads up the Skid Row initiatives in the city of Los Angeles’ Homelessness Initiatives Office, said it’s time for the “tough conversations.”
“We can’t just leave it at conversations we can’t just leave it at talk. We also need to do some work,” Tyler said.
The work is for providing extensive funding, resources and reparations.
In the mayor’s office, the work has begun through the Project 100 Initiative, which is funded through state HEAP funding. Project 100 takes 100 black women living in Skid Row off the streets and places them in permanent housing, where they will be provided critical supportive services, key challenges inside of the homeless service system will be addressed, cultural awareness and trauma-informed care training for service providers from the executive level will also be provided.
So far, Project 100 has placed these women in permanent housing using rapid rehousing dollars. They’ve also employed lived experienced consultants: women who have experienced homelessness or are currently experiencing homelessness, to guide Project 100 through this important work.
“We actually have to be listening to the folks that are living and experiencing homelessness right now,” Tyler said.
Project 100 has also been able to work with their permanent supportive housing providers and Lassa to increase the number and the speed of housing placements for the most vulnerable, work with Lassa to address structural bottlenecks that contribute to the delay in housing placements through the coordinated entry system, and identify biases in the vulnerability index service prioritization decision assistance tool, also known as VI-SPDAT.
Project 100 is fully informed and developed based on the recommendations of the ad hoc report, which represents the types of tools that are needed to guide Project 100’s conversations.
“Project 100 is the type of work that we need to be doing in order to bring change to our city. And now is the time that we take bold action. Because otherwise, it’ll be too late. And so I encourage you to join us in this fight to speak up for the people who can’t speak for themselves, and let’s work together to make this city better,” Tyler said.
Garcetti calls for Angelenos tohelp both Marston and Tyler with their efforts.
Gyms, fitness centers, museums, aquariums, galleries, hotels, day camps and pools reopened last week. The city of Los Angeles advised the businesses to follow health requirements, which are available at coronavirus.lacity.org/business.
“There’s an estimate today that, remember when we hit one hundred thousand deaths in America just a few weeks ago, that by the end of September we’ll have two hundred thousand deaths. Think about all the pain and suffering that we’ve experienced to this point. In an essence they’re projecting that may very likely double. We need to be prepared to do everything we can to keep those numbers down. While we await a permanent solution,” Garcetti said.
The City of Los Angeles has the capacity to conduct 20,000 coronavirus tests every day. These tests will continue to take place at the 25 testing centers, as well as 63 CVS Pharmacy testing centers. Visit coronavirus.lacity.org/testing to schedule a test. The city of Los Angeles has tested 676,000 Angelenos, up from 581,000 last week.
Those who are diagnosed with coronavirus will receive a call from a county worker to trace who the infected person has been in contact with.
“We need your help when they call. Please pick up. Doing so will save lives,” Garcetti said.
There are also scammers out there doing fake contact tracing. Official contact tracers will never ask someone for their immigration status, social security number, or money.
“Those are all signs of a scam. Beware,” Garcetti said.
Garcetti brought up how Angelenos are also collectively grieving the lives lost due to racism in America. George Floyd was laid to rest in Houston on June 9.
“We can’t just grieve. We need to grow,” Garcetti said.
The City of Angels is working to overcome this challenge. On June 12, the new Civil and Human Rights Department had its first meeting. The members of this department lead by Caprix Maddox have started their work to protect anyone who lives, works in, or visits, the city of Los Angeles from discrimination. The city of Los Angeles will continue to take steps forward for this effort with the city’s budgets and policies, as well as on a national level, the health care systems, the welfare systems, the housing policies, the mental health care systems, the education programs, public dollar spending, and how LAPD officers connect with communities. Opportunities like raising minimum wage and free community college tuition will continue.
“We’ve been tested, we’ve been tried, a lot in these past few days, weeks, and months. But Angelenos are strong and resilient. And this is a city unlike any other. It’s strength is on our streets. It’s strength is in us staying at home. It’s strength is around us in acts of generosity. And even in the most painful moments, believing that we can find common ground and the demand that we each play our part in moving our city forward. We will get through this, this moment, but I call on all of you not just to get through a moment but to give it meaning. To not just save lives but to end racism. Not just to get livelihoods back, but to rebuild a much fairer economy. To make sure we do the things to look back on this chapter not as a chapter of survival and resilience, but of hope and of transformation. I said we’d never stop working for you in the midst of this crisis and we haven’t. Even as one crisis turned to two and two to three crises like homelessness that will predate and post date this requires us to continue. We will never stop caring, never stop listening, and never stop working, to make this a city of angels. I wish everybody peace and strength, love and justice, in our days ahead. Let’s keep walking through these fires together,” Garcetti said.