We received this post form Arnold Cohen of the Housing and Community Development Network. This is an interesting note from the field.
â€œTent Cityâ€ in Los Angeles Elicits Response from Mayor
The Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness (LACEH&H) on April 12 organized a Tent City at Los Angeles City Hall and issued a list of demands addressed to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. From tents pitched on the south side of city hall, more than 300 homeless people and housing advocates issued a 10-point plan demanding full implementation and funding of the comprehensive â€œBring Los Angeles Homeâ€ plan that was released last year by LACEH&H, the Los Angeles Homeless Services, and a Blue Ribbon Panel of 64 other stakeholders, including then-City Councilmember Villaraigosa.
The same day, Mr. Villaraigosa responded to the demands in an Op-Ed piece for the Los Angeles Times titled â€œNo Easy Fix for Homelessness.â€
The demands of Tent City advocates to Mr. Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles City Council included:
Declare immediately a human and legal right to housing in Los Angeles. Stop the criminalization of homeless people.
Stop displacing homeless people to other parts of town; offer housing and substance abuse and mental health treatment to people in need.
Make 500 permanent housing units for people with incomes under $15,000 available in each of the 15 L.A. City Council districts by April 2008, for a total of 7,500 units.
Fully fund the $100 million housing trust fund immediately with a permanent, dedicated source of revenue.
Appoint immediately a Deputy Mayor of Housing & Homelessness to implement a plan to prevent and end homelessness; work with other cities and counties to fit into a regional plan.
Convene by December 2007, in conjunction with the LA County Board of Supervisors, an 88-City Summit on the regional homeless crisis.
In his op-ed piece, Mr. Villaraigosa acknowledged the challenges in addressing the needs of the cityâ€™s 90,000 homeless residents. â€œThe path to substantive change is not an easy one; homelessness is a complex problem rooted in decades of public policy failures, a rise in poverty and a lack of affordable housing,â€ he said.
â€œThe construction of permanent, supportive, affordable housing is the cornerstone of my office’s efforts,â€ Mr. Villaraigosa wrote. â€œRecently, we announced plans to spend $137 million from the city’s affordable-housing trust fund to build housing for Los Angeles residents with the greatest needs. This money will leverage more than $1 billion in state and federal funds and enable us to build nearly 1,500 units of housing for low-income and homeless people.â€
Bob Erlenbusch, Executive Director of LACEH&H, said advocates would follow up on the demands laid out at Tent City. â€œThe 1,500 units announced by the Mayor pales in comparison to the Housing First effort announced in New York City, which is planning to build or rehab 165,000 units over a 10-year period. We will keep the pressure on the Mayor in order to elevate housing and homelessness as one of his main issues,â€ Mr. Erlenbusch said.
â€œThe Mayor didnâ€™t agree to all our demands, but thatâ€™s okay. This is just day one,â€ Mr. Erlenbusch said. â€œWe will continue to hold policymakers at all levels accountable for ending and preventing homelessness.â€