May 3, 2021 - From the April, 2021 issue

Mayor Eric Garcetti State of the City 2021 Housing & Homelessness Priorities

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, in his 2021 State of the City address, outlined a number of initiatives aimed at guiding Los Angeles towards a more just, equitable, and sustainable economic recovery. TPR shares an excerpt from the Mayor's remarks in which he elaborates on the $791 million included in his 2021 proposed city budget for housing and homeless services. Watch the full address online, here, and find an outline of the mayor's budget proposal, here


"We know the key to ending homelessness is homes: Let’s rent them … let’s buy them — and let’s build them brand new. A reimagined city … a resilient city … a just city … must have room for us all."

If we want a strong economy, we have to help small business owners thrive. I know that in my blood.

My grandfather Salvador was a barber … my other grandfather Harry was a tailor.

My first jobs, both unpaid and paid, were sweeping up the barbershop and hawking ties on the sales floor.

My family worked hard every day, but they were supported by on-ramps of opportunity, from the GI Bill to a city that invested in new housing.

Today, too many of our residents don’t have that access to capital or to stable housing.

We have to help build a better future for our most vulnerable residents so that on-ramps don’t turn into dead ends when workers can’t afford housing in the city where they work.

A year ago we saw an eviction tsunami bearing down on us.

While others debated, we took swift action, keeping people housed, passing one of the first eviction moratoriums in the United States.

Next, we raised tens of millions of dollars privately to help Angelenos pay their rent … and then we built the largest emergency rental assistance program of any city in the country with government funds.

Together, we’ve already distributed over $200 million in direct assistance to Angelenos to pay for rent, utilities, and the basics.

Now, in Phase Two, L.A.’s Emergency Rental Assistance program is putting another $235 million in the hands of Angelenos. Together these efforts will help pay the rent of nearly 100,000 households that couldn’t. You heard that right — 100,000 households.

Tonight, I’m proud to announce that we are going to double down again: this summer, our city will put another $300 million in aid from the American Rescue Plan into the hands of Angelenos.

Money we can finally use to cover more rent and pay down more mortgages and utilities for both renters and homeowners.

Together, these efforts represent more than $700 million in direct assistance to Angelenos when they need it most.

But the pandemic didn’t start our housing crisis, and our success in eliminating so much rent won’t end it.

Loving Los Angeles means facing the bitter truth about our past — that maps of our city were drawn to protect the wealth of white people and destroy the wealth of Black people and other people of color.

Redlining and exclusionary zoning resulted in a city where today Black and Mexican-origin families hold 1/90th the wealth of white families on average.

It’s a city where Black people are overrepresented among those experiencing homelessness by a factor of four … and where Latino homelessness accounts for the greatest jump of newly- homeless Angelenos.

When it came to homelessness, this pandemic had lessons for us.

The threat of COVID finally led the federal and state governments to do something I’ve been banging the table about for a long time: treat an emergency like an emergency and offer a FEMA-level response.

Instead of fighting over crumbs to implement different homelessness solutions, we suddenly had real resources and the alignment from federal to state to local governments to begin moving the needle.

Our life-saving action allowed us to help thousands of our most vulnerable neighbors get into temporary shelters including trailers, motels, and hotels right away, and to move thousands more into housing.

Advertisement

Working with Governor Newsom and the state legislature, we bought twenty buildings in just three months … 

Now we are talking to the Biden Administration about building on these models nationally, and buying more buildings to convert into long-term permanent housing.

 Together with our successful advocacy for more federal homelessness dollars and thousands more housing vouchers, there’s real hope on the horizon in our fight to end homelessness.

But our justice budget won’t wait for the cavalry to arrive … We are putting our money where our heart is.

And so, today I’m announcing that for the first time ever, with the new money our budget is investing, we will dedicate nearly $1 billion towards ending homelessness.

To put that number in perspective — when I became mayor, we spent about $10 million on treating homelessness.

Starting July 1st, that number will be north of $950 million.

Ending homelessness is tough, tough work and not for the faint of heart, but our investments are building a movement and building our capacity to improve the lives of our unhoused neighbors:

Since 2013, the number of City-funded outreach workers has grown by 1,000 percent — from just 11 to more than 120 today …

We helped 8,000 additional people this past year get into shelters and hotels through Project Roomkey …

And this year we are going to give at least 1,200 additional vouchers to help people find homes. Proposition HHH got a second wind and beat the hype.

It’s now set to come in at an average of $15,000 per unit cheaper for one thousand units more

than originally promised — two years ahead of schedule.

Next, we have to start setting our post-HHH goals as Councilmember de Leon and the City Council are already considering, and get state and federal partners to match our ambition.

To our partners, we recognize your efforts, and we challenge you: meet this moment and match us. 

Specifically, California’s Big City Mayors and cities are calling on our state to invest $16 billion in housing and services for California cities over the next four years … on our way to a permanent source of state funding as I and Councilmember Ridley-Thomas have advocated.

And I’m calling on our federal government to declare a national right to housing and to fully fund Section 8 housing choice vouchers and help make homelessness a thing of the past. 

We know the key to ending homelessness is homes:

Let’s rent them … let’s buy them — and let’s build them brand new. 

A reimagined city … a resilient city … a just city … must have room for us all.

<

Advertisement

© 2021 The Planning Report | David Abel, Publisher, ABL, Inc.