LA officials push governor to declare emergency as homelessness crisis worsens

LA officials push governor to declare emergency as homelessness crisis worsens
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The increasing homelessness problem prompted Los Angeles officials to call on California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomCalifornia to stop buying from automakers that backed Trump in emissions battle California governor sets special election to replace Katie Hill California regulators open investigation into power outages means to prevent wildfires MORE (D) to declare a state of emergency on homelessness in the state, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and City Councilman Joe Buscaino were the drivers of the proposal.

Los Angeles wouldn't be the first city to use a state of emergency to fight homelessness. Portland and the surrounding Multnomah County used such a tactic to cut red tape and relax zoning and occupancy laws so housing could be quickly built.

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To date, there are roughly 55,000 homeless people in LA County. Of those, an estimated 45,000 live in cars, tent encampments or lean-tos. 

But Newsom has already been proactive about the situation.

Last week, the governor signed a legislation package to make shelter and housing projects in LA that receive certain public funding exempt from environmental reviews.

That funding includes the massive $1.2 billion Proposition HHH. The proposition's main goal is to greatly increase the amount of supportive housing in LA. 

Newsom has yet to comment publicly on the request, but Newsom spokesman Nathan Click told the LA Times that "there are more questions that need to be worked through before he could support something like that."

Despite Proposition HHH being passed in 2016, only 477 emergency shelter beds have been created in the city so far and none of the housing has been created for households with children.

Additionally, Ridley-Thomas and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg are backing another significant state bill that would make shelter a legal right in the state, according to the paper. The proposed law would require the state to offer indoor shelter for any homeless person who wants it. 

“We have a tacit public policy it’s OK to live outdoors,” Steinberg told the LA Times. “I am strongly pushing for a clear public policy that says as a matter of right people should be living under a roof.”