Buscaino and Kortez: We Need Real Housing Now, Not a Blame Game

Buscaino and Kortez: We Need Real Housing Now, Not a Blame Game

Stasi Cusack-Mercedez, Downtown Women’s Action Coalition

Councilmembers Buscaino and Koretz are now pushing for the dissolution of city ties with LAHSA, claiming that LAHSA’s disorganization can be pointed to as a cause of the continued crisis of houselessness in Los Angeles. Their motion claims that LAHSA’s failure has pushed the city to contract with independent service providers to get people housed as a justification as to why the city should dissolve ties with LAHSA. Buscaino says “LAHSA has failed us.” Yet, it is the city, and not LAHSA that ultimately holds the responsibility for the crisis that we are in today. It is the city, the politicians elected to represent its people, who continue to support criminalization of poverty, to not invest in the community, and to fund impermanent “housing” solutions.

Beyond this, in drafting this motion to dissolve city ties with LAHSA, Buscaino and Koretz point to the events in Echo Park as a successful model to be emulated and reproduced in LAHSA’s place. The council-members go as far as to describe what transpired in Echo Park as “intensive focused outreach[…] that successfully transitioned over 200 unhoused residents from safe and unsanitary encampments into housing.” Yet former residents of Echo Park continue to wonder when they will see this “housing”. Some residents may have been connected to Project Roomkey rooms or shelters, but to this day many do not have answers as to where they will go next. As the date for the closure of Project Roomkey sites marches closer, the urgency of the situation only increases. Lacking real infrastructure to support folks, the tenants of Project Roomkey now face the imminent threat of being pushed back out onto the streets when the funding for the program is cut.

Echo Park was swept away. Buscaino and Koretz would have us believe that the residents of Echo Park no longer occupy the park because they received housing. In an article published in the Daily News, Buscaino points out that the Echo Park encampment “continued to grow” throughout the year, implying LAHSA’s responsibility for this trend. What Buscaino fails to address is why people became houseless. Racism, tenant harassment, gentrification, the circumstances of the covid-19 pandemic, and so many more issues plague this city, pushing more and more people, overwhelmingly Black and increasingly female, out of their housing and into the streets each day.

Without addressing these issues, the city continues to allow people to fall into houselessness. It is not the bureaucracy of LAHSA creating our housing crisis.
Further, Echo Park was a community. With shared spaces, outdoor showers, and community gardens, Echo Park residents built a home together in the absence of housing. The city failed its people, and yet its people rose up. Then the city tore that very community back down, scattering its residents across the city into temporary living spaces. It is absolutely dishonest and disgraceful for a city councilmember to now use these events as a “success story.”

The question remains, how does the city except LAHSA to solve the housing crisis? LAHSA is a body through which resources move, and are connected to, service providers.

Councilmembers Buscaino and Koretz are not moving towards solutions, they are simply shifting the blame. We see through you.

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