NEW GEOGRAPHY--Anyone who needed a poll by the LA Times and LA Business Council Institute to tell them that overwhelming numbers of Angelenos consider homelessness the city’s biggest problem hasn’t been paying attention for quite a while.
And anyone who thinks homelessness in LA can be addressed without confronting public corruption overlooks a problem that tears the fabric of the city.
The odor of corruption hangs over a deal at a warehouse at 1426 Paloma Street on the industrial edge of Downtown LA. The City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti approved a lease that requires $35,000 a month in rent for space to be converted into a 115-bed homeless shelter there. They’ve also agreed to pay a nonprofit $4 million a year to run the shelter.
The numbers involved are relatively small compared to the $1.2 billion voters approved under Prop HHH three years ago to address the crisis.
You can look here to see why they nevertheless indicate the potential for much bigger problems.
And you can consider these 10 questions, which Garcetti has been unable or unwilling to answer for weeks and months while the shelter has yet to open even as the city pays $35,000 a month to the landlord:
- Why isn't there a homeless shelter in operation at 1426 S. Paloma Street?
- What sort of market analysis was done on the lease?
- Do plans still call for the development of a shelter at the property
- If so, when is it expected to open?
- Are there any concerns that the landlord of the property has been involved in cases of money laundering and counterfeiting in the past?
- How was Home at Last CDC chosen as the operator of the homeless shelter?
- How was the $4 million annual value of Home at Last CDC’s services determined?
- Are there any concerns that Home at Last CDC has recently demonstrated a lack of organizational capacity and transparency about its operations?
- Are there concerns that city documents indicate plans for 60 fulltime employees to staff a 115-bed facility?
- Has the city surveyed industry standards on staffing levels for emergency shelters?
These shouldn’t be tough questions for a mayor with hundreds of public employees on his staff, including dozens dedicated to communications and homelessness programs.
They are offered without apology because the people of any representative democracy have a right to know – and because LA will never meet the challenge of homelessness unless we start to talk about public corruption.
(Jerry Sullivan is founder and chief columnist for SullivanSaysSoCal.com @SullivanSaysSC. This perspective was posted most recently at New Geography, edited by Joel Kotkin)