Los Angeles Needs A New Official to Address Homeless Crisis, says City Attorney

Homeless Crisis

Los Angeles needs to treat its homelessness crisis as an emergency by appointing another top-level official to work on getting facilities for the homeless built as quickly as possible, said City Attorney Mike Feuer Monday.

The city already has a "homelessness czar" who is responsible for program funding and operational matters, but the new official would be a "field general" working on the crisis "with greater urgency," including addressing community opposition when facilities which serve the homeless are being proposed.

“The style of person I have in mind is a FEMA-director style, someone who has experience with complicated logistical issues,” Feuer said. The new official also will ideally be someone who is “not going to take no for an answer."

Currently, the city has only one facility where the homeless can store their belongings, and a program which would provide a parking lot so people could live safely out of their cars has yet to materialize.

The city hasn't done its part to address the crisis, according to Feuer, who says the homeless are told not to live on the street, for example, even though the city hasn't yet provided adequate facilities for them.

Feuer believes every City Council district should have at least one facility serving the needs of the homeless and said he's willing to come to the aid of Council members who come under political "heat" when homeless facilities are being proposed in their districts.

Feuer, who has been holding public meetings in different areas of the city in order to generate support for more homeless facilities, says the severity of the crisis, which has grown past downtown's Skid Row, may be convincing Los Angeles residents that the problem can no longer be ignored.

Both Los Angeles city and county voters recently approved the creation of taxes to assist the homeless, measures which have now gone into effect. The city's Proposition HHH will raise revenues for the building of homeless facilities, while county Measure H will provide funds for services.

Feuer said that the passage of these measures means that voters will be expecting to see a noticeable decrease in the homeless population in the near future.