Politics

LA council to consider strategy on services, spending for homeless

 A skater passes a van where a homeless person is sleeping July 13, 2004 in Venice, California.
A skater passes a van where a homeless person is sleeping July 13, 2004 in Venice, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

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Less than a week after the city released a report calculating it spends $100 million on services involving the homeless, some member the Los Angeles City Council introduced a motion Wednesday to develop a strategy to target spending for the homeless.

"The cost of not having a comprehensive strategy around homelessness is significant," L.A.'s Chief Administrator, Miguel Santana, told the council Wednesday.

In calculating the costs, the city cast a wide net. It included costs that are obvious - like the housing authority and some shelters - and some that don't immediately come to mind as services specifically for the homeless - like parks and libraries. It even includes the cost of police and prosecution and time spent by council members' staff.

Santana said the overall costs are likely to grow.

Councilman Jose Huizar, who is expected to chair the committee, said one of his goals would be to hire a homeless czar who oversees efforts by various city agencies that work with the homeless population - and coordinating with the county government to target efforts in Skid Row.

Skid Row is in Huizar's district. The proposal also calls for more cleanups of that area, more money for police officers who work with the mentally ill and the expansion of services outside of Skid Row.

Councilman Mike Bonin of Venice, who would vice-chair the committee, said things in his district are getting worse.

"We're wasting $100 million a year," he said. "The question is how do we redirect it to maximize it."

Bonin said he wants to create more affordable housing and subsidize rent for those who can't afford market rate apartments. 

The council will vote on the proposal next week.