A group of over 130 organizations and civic leaders – representative of the social, professional, racial and religious diversity of Los Angeles – will convene at City Hall on Friday, November 13, 2015 (9am – 3pm) for a Day of Action to in response to the recent homeless “state of emergency” declaration. The group has called for an end to all policies that criminalize homelessness and to make the $100 million plan announced by the Mayor and Councilmembers a long-term reality, not just rhetoric.
Schedule for the Day:
9am Press Conference on South Steps of City Hall
10am City Council meeting to deliver Open Letter to the Council
12pm Lunch and Rally on South Steps
1pm Testimony at Homeless and Poverty Committee Meeting
Their open letter, to be delivered to full council on Friday, calls on the Mayor, City Council and other City Officials to:
1. Identify long-term, sustained sources of local funding totaling at least $100 million per year and dedicate the large majority of those resources toward new permanent supportive housing units.
2. End all “quality-of-life” and “Safer Cities” enforcement against homeless residents, including, but not limited to:
a. Evaluating and repealing punitive laws such as LA Municipal Code 56.11, 63.44 B and I, and 41.18D.
b. Redirecting the $87 million spent on arresting homeless people, as identified in the recent CAO report, toward permanent solutions to homelessness.
3. Provide emergency public health resources to people living on the streets without major investment in infrastructure, including mobile restrooms and showers, mobile health and mental health services, and voluntary storage facilities.
The call for an end to criminalization is particularly timely as city council is expected within a week to revisit a controversial policy regarding the property rights of homeless individuals that was passed earlier this year. In June, Council passed changes to LA Municipal Code 56.11, which would allow for a 24-hour notice to be placed on any property on the public sidewalk or other public space, regardless of how much property someone has or whether the property is attended or unattended. After the 24 hour period, the property can be removed and stored for 90 days. This would make it nearly impossible for homeless people to possess any items of any size in public space.
In August, proposed amendments to this law that would eliminate criminal penalties passed out of the Council’s Homeless and Poverty Committee, but those need to be approved by full Council. These amendments took on greater importance when the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) added application guidelines for the federal homelessness funds incentivizing communities to take steps to end criminalization. Local Continuums of Care across the country applying for $1.9 billion in funds in a competitive process will not be asked to “describe how they are reducing criminalization of homelessness.”
“The homeless ‘state of emergency’ did not create itself,” the group’s open letter reads. “The City has invested hundreds of millions dollars to address homelessness in the past several years, but the large majority of that money has gone to the Los Angeles Police Department to cite, arrest and otherwise police people who need resources, not fines and jail time. Additionally, increases in financial resources towards this crisis will only work if the City abandons what has been its primary approach toward homelessness over the past decade: criminalizing the lives of homeless residents.”