LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl issued the following statement in response to the 2020 Homeless Count released today by the LA Homeless Services Authority:
In the time since the voters of LA County passed Measure H in 2016, we have doubled the number of people we have placed into housing each year. That number has grown from 11,904 in 2015 to nearly 23,000 this past year. We have built a smart, sustainable and increasingly effective system to help men and women who are experiencing homelessness get back into housing and to help those who may be at risk of homelessness stay in their homes.
But we continue to struggle to reduce the total homeless population. For millions of people who live here, our housing market is simply unaffordable. We need half a million affordable homes that simply don’t exist, and the COVID19 pandemic now threatens to make the conditions that force low-income men, women, and families into homelessness even worse.
Furthermore, in this unique moment when people of all backgrounds are recognizing the public health crisis of structural racism, we must also see the significant racial disparities within our homeless population as an urgent call to invest resources in the communities where people of color are most likely to lose their homes. It is unconscionable that 1 in 33 Black Angelenos will experience homelessness at some point in their lives. We must do better.
All of us – elected officials, private sector and nonprofit leaders, and members of the public – should see today’s announcement as an urgent call to action. LA is doing its part. We need state and federal partners to do theirs.
I urge the governor and state legislators to act quickly and take urgently needed steps such as funding our Homeless COVID-10 Recovery Plan, funding affordable housing, and reforming state laws that prevent localities from expanding rent stabilization and preserving rent-stabilized homes. At the state and local level, we all need to be doing more to streamline the building process and ease zoning restrictions to produce more affordable housing.
The federal government must renew its commitment to working with state and local governments to assure that every American has a decent home. Not so long ago in our history, the federal government embraced that responsibility to our people. There’s no reason, in the wealthiest country on the history of the planet, that we can’t do it again. Come November, we need to elect an administration that is prepared to truly serve all the people of this nation.