LA homelessness: City, county invite public to comment on plans of attack

Homeless women prepare for another day and night on the street near Skid Row.
Homeless women prepare for another day and night on the street near Skid Row.

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Armed with plans to end homelessness in Los Angeles, the city and county will solicit the public's input during meetings this week.

When it comes to homelessness, the city and county have been in lock-step in recent months. Officials from both levels of government have been meeting regularly since October over how to find more housing, jobs and services for homeless people.  

"We are at crisis proportions now," said Councilmember Marqueese Harris-Dawson, who co-chairs the city's Committee on Homelessness and Poverty. "I actually think we are at the edge of the abyss on homelessness."

A new city report found that L.A.'s homelessness crisis is at such dire levels that the city would need to spend nearly $1.9 billion over the next 10 years to properly address the problem.

There’s so much public interest in dealing with the homelessness issue that the county’s meeting at the United Way building in downtown Los Angeles is already at the 500-person capacity. Those who want to attend must get on a wait list.

Phil Ansell, who oversees homeless initiatives for the county, estimated that half of the attendees will be homeless service providers and advocates who helped the county shaped its plan. He expects the other half will be members of the general public.

"The level of engagement exemplifies the passion and compassion around homelessness that is pervasive through out L.A. County," Ansell said.

Those who can't make the county meeting or the meeting at City Hall can follow online. Public comment can also be sent electronically.

Officials with both the city and county say they expect to finalize their respective plans in February.