This past September City Controller Ron Galperin released an extensive and illuminating report on “the humanitarian crisis that persists on our streets across Los Angeles,” that is, homeless encampments. The study evaluates the impact of current City guidelines, practices, legal challenges, ordinances and City resources relating to homeless encampments. The report proposes more effective strategies to mitigate their impacts, with the overarching goal of improving health, safety, and accessibility for all Los Angeles residents.
Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin
Controller Galperin presented key findings and answered questions at the DIBID’s October 25 board meeting. The Report documents that the City’s policies and procedures relating to unsheltered residents sleeping on streets and in encampments result from a complex web of City ordinances, protocols, court rulings, injunctions and settlement agreements. He indicated that enforcement is a viable strategy but needs to be improved, as some enforcement is not productive, serving neither the public nor fixing the problem.
The City has limited resources yet City auditors estimated that the City is spending as much as $1,000 per hour on some encampment cleanups, often due to intricate coordination needed between various City departments.
Three key programs are in place for cleaning-up homeless encampments: Operation Healthy Streets, Clean Streets Initiative, and Homeless Outreach and Proactive Engagement (“HOPE”) teams.
To optimize limited resources, the City report recommends that the City:
- Intervene early before an encampment requires significant staffing, environmental protections and involuntary storage.
- Utilize appropriate City-owned properties to create defined spaces for temporary shelters and/or encampments — and for long-term development of affordable and supportive housing.
- Continue to expand resources for HOPE teams, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing and programs to help tackle mental health and alcohol and drug dependency.
- Prioritize hygiene: recent outbreaks of Hepatitis A in San Diego and Los Angeles County underscore that restrooms and showers (perhaps, some mobile) need to be available for homeless people.
The Board and the Controller engaged in a lengthy and informed discussion; we hope to continue these discussions with Controller Galperin as well as the City going forward.