Los Angeles city, county leaders pass initiatives to help homeless

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Los Angeles officials have voted to implement initiatives to help homeless people in the city and county on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (KABC)

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve initiatives to help the homeless on Tuesday.

The sweeping plans, which will cost billions over a decade, include expanding services and access to housing for the homeless and creating a "no wrong door policy," which allows city employees to help those in need.

The idea is to shift the focus from shelters to more permanent housing. Officials said eventually 100,000 units of new housing will be needed for the growing homeless population.

Currently more than 20,000 people live on the streets of L.A., and another 20,000 are homeless in L.A. County, according to officials.

"This pivoting I think is not only going to provide better services to our homeless population, but it's also going to save us money in the long term," Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar said.

The city must still figure out how to fund the estimated $100 million a year plan to combat homelessness. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wants to allocate $100 million in the upcoming budget in April, but said it could come at the expense of other projects.

"It may include things that have to do with revenue growth or the shifting of priorities of money. We don't have 100 million extra dollars lying around where we can go, 'OK we were going to split this up into other things, let's just put it all into homelessness.' It will require difficult decisions," Garcetti said.

The vote follows months of work in the city's first ever permanent homeless committee that was established in June 2015.

Critics point to a city law that allows homeless encampments to be dismantled and said it treats homeless people as criminals.

"Certain quality of life crimes actually provide barriers for people to move into services and housing," Pete White with the Community Action Network said.

Related Topics:
homelesslos angeles city councillos angeles board of supervisorssocietyLos AngelesLos Angeles County
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