The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a motion Tuesday that replaces the city’s mandatory cleanups of homeless encampments “with a preference for voluntary compliance whenever possible,” the City News Service reported.
The motion instructs the Bureau of Sanitation and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to develop new standards for hygiene by offering trash pickups, mobile showers, tent exchanges and more services.
“When our unhoused neighbors are given the same sanitation services as our housed ones, and engaged with collaboratively, we can build a system that benefits all Angelenos,” Nithya Raman, the author of the motion, said in a statement to City News Service when she first introduced it in January. “I am proud to co-present a motion that takes this philosophy citywide.”
Los Angeles is grappling with a homeless crisis that has spiraled out of control in recent years. The city’s homeless population has increased by 50% in the last five years and by 14% in 2019 alone, according to a report earlier this year by the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy.
That brings the total homeless population to 41,000 for the city of Los Angeles and 66,000 for Los Angeles County.
The renewed focus on the homeless crisis comes with an ever-expanding slice of the city’s budget.
Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed spending $955 million on the homeless crisis in the next year, an increase from just $10 million that was allocated to the problem in 2013 and double what was spent last year.
The mayor’s budget must be approved by the city council, which also recognizes the growing problem.
“The Mayor’s proposed budget provides the funds necessary to address the City’s continuing homeless crisis and the needs of various communities across the city,” Councilmember Paul Krekorian, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, said in a statement Tuesday. “At the same time, it builds historic reserves to prepare us for further uncertainty and economic volatility during the pandemic, which is critical as we continue to grapple with its effects on local revenue and public health.”