“Our homelessness crisis is a national disgrace,” according to the L.A. Times editorial board in a series of six editorials. There are at least 58,000 homeless people in the county, a number that has lurched upward in recent years amid a chronic lack of affordable housing.
Until the mayor and the members of the City Council treat the building of these 10,000 units of housing with the kind of extraordinary urgency this crisis requires — the kind that the federal and state governments bestowed upon, for example, the rebuilding of the broken Santa Monica Freeway after the Northridge earthquake — they simply will not be built. And they must be built. Supportive housing in particular — which offers not just a place to live but also access to job counseling and mental health and substance abuse treatment, among other things — is the best long-term solution for the chronically homeless, whose cases are the most difficult to solve. A substantial number of these housing units must be located in every single council district. They cannot just be concentrated in poor areas or in neighborhoods with less political clout. Already, a new report shows that even more housing will be needed than was estimated at the time HHH was passed.
There will be opposition, vocal and angry. There already is. But ultimately, every council member must support a fair share of this housing in his or her district — and push back against those constituents who object by rote. We expect council members to lead rather than follow, to explain why this housing is necessary and to push as many reasonable projects as possible through the gantlet of City Council approvals. We expect Mayor Eric Garcetti to stand up publicly and fight for those projects as well. The mayor, who is said to be contemplating his next career steps, has an opportunity to repair the long-standing perception that he is unwilling to take on tough public battles. Surely he must be aware that his mayoralty will ultimately be judged on how he handles this crisis.
Photo Ballona Creek
Read the LA Times editorial series . . .