New LA mayor declares state of emergency over city’s homeless crisis, but critics say it’s all for show

Newly sworn-in Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass declared a homeless state of emergency on her first day in office but after only a week, her critics are slamming her edict as not addressing “systemic” reasons underlying the dire situation.

(Video Credit: Fox News)

Bass was praised and drooled over by fellow Democrats and advocates for her declaration to address the homeless problem in the City of Angels. Others, however, claim her plan doesn’t take aim at the root causes of the problem and will, in essence, do nothing to curb it.

The mayor’s office told Fox News, “This is not rhetoric. This is action.”

The City Council approved the measure in a unanimous 13-0 vote. The declaration will last six months as the city continues to grapple with homelessness and solutions on how to house people living on the street.

“My mandate is to move Los Angeles in a new direction with an urgent and strategic approach to solving one of our city’s toughest challenges and creating a brighter future for every Angeleno,” Bass said, according to Fox Los Angeles.

Bass replaced the hapless and incompetent Eric Garcetti, another Democrat who made similar vows while in office. She’s full of words and promises but many feel there does not seem to be any substance to her declaration, echoing her predecessor. The new mayor says that government, the private sector, and other stakeholders, all have to come together and form a “single strategy” to confront the problem.

The homeless budget for the city in 2023 is a whopping $1.1 billion. That’s up from just over $800 million the previous fiscal year, according to the latest figures from the City Administrative Officer. It’s mind-boggling with so much money to spend that nothing seems to get done and, in fact, the problem is exponentially increasing.

According to Fox News, “The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authorities (LAHSA) estimates that in 2022, around 41,980 people were experiencing homelessness on any given night in Los Angeles. That would suggest the city spends at minimum $27,835 per homeless person each year.”

Despite that lowball number, the homeless are flooding the streets with encampments that are spreading throughout the city.

Advocates are gushing over Bass’ feckless declaration of a state of emergency as a necessary step in combatting homelessness.

(Video Credit: Fox 11 Los Angeles)

The president and CEO of Union Station Homeless Services in Los Angeles, Anne Miskey, praised Bass “for understanding the issue and showing a willingness to tackle the problem from day one.”

“While more is needed at the federal, state, and local level, this is a great first step to cutting through the red tape and bureaucracy to house all our neighbors,” she proclaimed.

Elizabeth Bowen, who is an associate professor at the University of Buffalo School of Social Work, noted that the mayor’s state of emergency would only be effective if it enables the city to mobilize more resources to facilitate permanent affordable housing.

“Without significant investments in affordable housing, policy success in addressing homelessness is likely to be superficial or temporary,” she argued.

A professor of public policy at the University of Southern California and Director of the Homelessness Policy Research Institute, Gary Dean Painter, declared that the city council’s approval of the declaration “signals a strong consensus to various city departments that they need to work together more effectively than in the past.”

“It will be very important to specify the goals for the next six months so that the short-term and long-term actions to address homelessness are successful and so that our city government is transparent and accountable to the people,” he said, pointing out that something will have to actually get done to make the declaration a success.

Others echoed that sentiment, asserting that a specific plan is needed to handle the systemic problems that homeless individuals face in Los Angeles.

A California law enforcement officer told Fox News that he has serious doubts anything will change this time around and criticized past administrations for failing to adequately address homelessness.

“The fact of the matter is this. They have allowed homelessness and drug addiction to grow in numbers we have never seen before. Even if you were to build the Taj Mahal of homeless shelters, the community is so drugged out that less than 20% of them will actually utilize the facilities,” he charged.

He claimed that the homeless choose to stay on the streets where they can “drink, do drugs, sell drugs, have sex in [their] tent” instead of staying in homeless shelters where they have to follow the rules.

“Homelessness is now a cancer that requires aggressive treatment. Until you ban encampments and sleeping on the streets, nothing will change. Unfortunately, we have to make living on the streets, uncomfortable and inconvenient, and basically force them into homeless shelters where services are available,” he remarked. “If declaring a state of emergency is the answer, then why wasn’t it done during Garcetti‘s administration?”

A spokesperson for Bass’ office told Fox News that the emergency declaration will help house the homeless quicker than before but there is no proof it will do so whatsoever.

“To do that, we will launch an aggressive unit acquisition strategy, master leasing apartments and motel rooms across the city,” Bass said, according to the LAist.

“The order immediately gives Mayor Bass the power to lift rules and regulations that slow or prevent the building of permanent and temporary housing for the unhoused; to expedite contracts that prioritize bringing unhoused Angelenos inside; and to allow the city to acquire rooms, properties and land for housing for Angelenos in need,” a spokesperson commented.

Many still contend that housing the homeless is not a solution in itself. It does not address drug addiction, many times to deadly opioids such as fentanyl, or mental health issues. It also does not even mention that those being given shelter should have to work in exchange for it. Without those topics being addressed, the problem will almost certainly continue to grow no matter how many emergencies are declared or shelters are built.

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