Los Angeles’ battle against homelessness got a boost on Wednesday, with the disbursement of $85 million in state funds for various initiatives across the City of Angels. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that at least $20 million would target Skid Row alone, where an estimated 2,000 people sleep on the streets.
“We are thrilled that we were able to get this money to the city of Los Angeles so quickly,” said Alexis Podesta, Secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency and Chair of the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council. “We’re also pleased that the city plans to use this money immediately to begin addressing its homelessness issues.”
The previously approved, one-time Homeless Emergency Assistance Program dollars come from a state budget surplus, along with an additional $81 million awarded to the Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority, which administers homeless programs in the county.
“Twenty million (dollars) alone for Skid Row is going to be a huge infusion, together where the county money has been increased,” Garcetti said during a news conference at City Hall, adding that he supported the county having a mental health worker on every block in Skid Row.
In addition to the $20 million going to Skid Row, $45 million will go to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “A Bridge Home” temporary shelter program. That program already has $20 million in direct budget money dedicated to it this fiscal year and another $10 million that can potentially be tapped.
Two already-approved shelters will be built with the money, one in Hollywood and the other at the Veterans Affairs center in West L.A. Another $11.5 million will be used to support homeless prevention and diversion programs, general services and hygiene services; $4.25 million will be earmarked programs for homeless youth; and $4.25 is dedicated to administrative costs.
The “Bridge Home” program was first announced by Garcetti during his State of the City speech in April as a new front in the fight against homelessness, which has grown by about 75 percent over the last six years. The 2018 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found that more than 31,000 people are homeless in the city, including more than 23,000 living without shelter, which were both slight drops from the previous year.