SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- The Santa Monica City Council proclaimed a local emergency for homelessness Tuesday, hoping to improve public health and safety by obtaining more resources to fight the problem.
City officials and residents say the homelessness crisis in the city and throughout the region just continues to grow.
"I see it. I work on the overnights at a hotel here in Santa Monica so I see a lot of challenges from the hotel perspective of people just trying to come into the hotel and security challenges," said Matthew Houghton, who works in the city. "I am empathetic but at the same time I don't quite think it's right to camp on the street."
Local officials are citing an increase in homeless-related calls to police and fire departments as evidence of the growing homelessness issue.
For example, data from the city shows the number of calls regarding encampments has increased about 15% from more than 1,600 in 2021 to nearly 1,900 in 2022 - surpassing a previous high of about 1,800 in 2017.
A few months ago, a sign that reads "Santa Monica is not safe" was posted near the Third Street Promenade.
John Alle with the Santa Monica Coalition led this effort. Alle said it was to call attention to the crime and homelessness issue in the city.
"The coalition has been asking for a state of emergency for months. So, we are happy the city council is making this move. We are just more concerned right now about accountability," said Alle. "Where will the federal funds go?"
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Other local governments have also been ramping up efforts to fight homelesness by declaring states of emergency, including Long Beach, and the city and county of Los Angeles.
"If we all declare the same thing - namely that we are making homelessness a priority and doing our best to solve it - and calling it an emergency does help us do that, it lets us go for example to the federal or the state government as a united front and say we are willing to do what it takes to solve this problem," said Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis.
According to the city, the proclamation would allow them to advocate for more funding on all levels of government, remove barriers to building affordable housing and urge other partners to help.