My heart is broken every day by the plight of the homeless in our city and that’s why we have made finding a loving solution to this terrible epidemic the primary focus of our platform.
In LA County we have close to 50,000 homeless. In the City of Los Angeles, there are over 28,000 homeless, with over 10,000 living in Downtown LA. Of that total, over 6,000 are veterans.
We have come to see homelessness as an inevitable part of our urban experience, what’s worse, we have come to accept it.
The actions taken by local government are a start but don’t go far enough or act quickly enough – take the recently passed Proposition HHH, which aims to fund a 1.2 Billion dollar bond that will create 7,000 to 10,000 homes over the next 10 years. What about the other 40,000 plus homeless living in LA county who need homes now, not in three to ten years.
So where do we start? I believe the first step towards finding a real solution to homelessness is to realize that it is within our power to solve.
We start by seeing and acknowledging the homeless, by not ignoring the suffering of our brothers and sisters. We remind ourselves that with a simple twist of fate, any of us could find ourselves in their place.
We reframe homelessness by giving it a face, making it about individuals that we can take steps to help rather than treating it as a huge, abstract and insurmountable problem.
And we respond to homelessness with a variety of housing and services programs, including emergency shelters and transitional housing. We hold close the tenant that no man, woman or child will be left behind. This pertains especially to the chronic homeless, people who have been on the street for more than a year, with whom we will take a “Housing First” approach.
“Housing First” is a simple philosophy, which believes that in order to effectively treat the causes of homelessness we must first get people off of the streets. Once in homes we can triage the issues they face, from mental illness and substance abuse to domestic violence. This method not only saves the city money by reducing the huge amount of municipal services used by the homeless, who fill our ER’s, shelters and jails, but has been proven to work in places like Utah which used this method to effectively end homelessness in their state.
The overall approach has to be one in which we create a holistic system that doesn’t just treat the symptoms of homelessness but seeks to affect the roots of the problem from a mind, body and spirit perspective. And we have to acknowledge that there are people in our city that just need our help and our love.