RANTZ & RAVEZ - The Annual Los Angeles Homeless Count organized by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and supported by a host of politicians and a variety of honorable community groups and caring residents is designed to obtain a true and accurate number of the homeless population living on the streets, sidewalks, and other public and private areas in and around the various communities of greater Los Angeles. From the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach and neighborhoods in between, the exploding homeless population is continuing to grow larger in spite of the annual count and millions upon millions of dollars spent by LAHSA and other groups like Hope of the Valley feeding off our public dollars to address the sprawling unhoused population. In reality, the annual count is nothing more than a PUBLICITY STUNT by LAHSA and many governmental agencies and officials to simply try and justify now Billions of tax dollars are spent on the never reducing and always increasing population of people living in tents and motorhomes and cars near populated neighborhoods with little if any support from various governmental agencies. Agencies like Street Services and all the others that lack the resources to address the sprawling problem.
I have been personally involved in every Homeless Count conducted in the City of L.A. in the past years. When you drive down dark streets and look at a motorhome and take a guess if it is occupied or see a tent and guess how many people are living in it, that is how the Homeless Count is conducted in Los Angeles as directed by LAHSA. We meet at 8:00 pm and drive in sectors and document the fundings. It is done in the dark with specific instructions not to approach the occupants in any manner. It is as effective as throwing a coin in the air and guessing how many are actually homeless in Los Angeles. A recent Rand report illustrated just how inaccurate the annual count is. I have noticed over the years that the number of volunteers who conduct the count has become fewer year after year. If you have been involved in the January count, what was your impression? I am sure the readers would be curious to know your personal observations.
Let me provide you a brief background of my personal knowledge and experience dealing with the Los Angeles homeless population.
As a native of Los Angeles with 55 years of Law Enforcement experience coupled with 12 years as an elected member of the Los Angeles City Council, I know first-hand about the always increasing homeless environment around Los Angeles City, County, and many other communities of California from San Francisco to San Diego. The tired, worn out and frustrated taxpayers and business owns are not seeing any improvement in the reduction of the homeless population living on the streets and showing a lack of concern for public and private properties. The attached photos reflect just how bad the situation has become over the past years.
Why is it that in many cities outside of Los Angeles there are very few homeless people living on the streets? Why are they not in neighboring communities. Where have they all gone? The reality is they have not encroached in various well-managed communities since the local officials in those communities have not put out the welcome mat like Los Angeles City. Other cities use existing laws and local resources to maintain safe and responsible communities. Visit Calabasas or Burbank for example. They have been able to maintain safe environments without the crime and illegal activity associated with the homeless unlike most neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
Let me illustrate various published information how your tax dollars that have been poured into addressing the homeless population in Los Angeles over the last few years. Are you getting your money’s worth?
- May 2018. L.A. spent $619 million on homeless.
- Feb 2022. L.A. is spending $837,000 to house a single person.
- April 2022. L.A. agrees to spend $3 billion to house homeless.
- 2022/2023. L.A. County to spend in excess of $1 billion to address homeless.
- May 2022/2023. $532.6 million Homeless Initiative Spending Plan.
- February 2022. $1.2 billion program intended to build housing for homeless.
- Jan 2022. The city pays LAHSA nearly $300 million a year to administer homeless services.
- August 2022. Governor Newsom announces $694 million for Homekey program.
- February 2022. A city audit of the $1.2 billion housing bond measure that the voters approved is delayed in moving forward.
- LA agencies failed to spend nearly $150 in federal funds on homeless. LAHSA returned more than $29 million to HUD during the six year.
- March 2022. $10.7 Billion has been earmarked in the 2021-22 budget to fund 50 housing and homeless.
- April 2022. L.A. agrees to spend as much as $3 billion over five years on a program to house about 60% of the homeless in the city.
As you can see, it is not a lack of public funding directed at the homeless population in and around Los Angeles. It is a lack of effectiveness, leadership, and direction.
Will Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass with the “Emergency Declaration” be able to have any impact on the Los Angeles Homeless population?
Time will tell if the Mayor’s “Emergency Declaration” will have any impact on reducing the homeless population in Los Angeles. If the Mayor is successful, that should lay the platform for her to run for governor. We will see how this works out. I will continue to bring controversial subjects and items of interest to you…..
(Dennis P. Zine is the RantZ and RaveZ columnist. Dennis is a retired member of law enforcement and the L.A. City Council. The column is published twice a month in CityWatchLA.com to keep you informed of current events in and around Los Angeles and America.)