U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro joined Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and members of the Los Angeles City Council in a roundtable discussion on homelessness hosted by Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Secretary Castro said the federal government aims to ease the crisis of homelessness that is gripping not only the city but the entire county of Los Angeles.
“As Los Angeles goes, so goes the nation, and we want to be your strong partner in driving down the number of homeless,” Secretary Castro said during the event at the Vermont Villas, a permanent supportive housing complex in Harbor Gateway for chronically homeless veterans and homeless individuals with critical health needs.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said Los Angeles County has made addressing homelessness one of its top priorities, invested $100 million to implement the most comprehensive plan yet for attacking the problem, and continues to seek funding.
“We welcome the federal government as a partner in the fight against homelessness, especially in LA County where on any given night, 47,000 men, women and children lack decent housing and services,” he said. “United, we can and must take action to provide decent housing and restore dignity to those forced to live in such unsafe and deplorable conditions, no matter how daunting the task.”
The public is also clamoring for solutions. An online petition asking the Governor of California to declare a homelessness emergency has drawn almost 25,000 signatures.
Councilmenbers Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Joe Buscaino and Gil Cedillo also attended roundtable discussion, together with leaders of nonprofit agencies serving the homeless, such as PATH, Step Up on Second, LAMP Community, St. Joseph Center, Home for Good, and others.
Comprehensive and collaborative efforts to help the homeless have proven successful. Earlier this week, HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) announced the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States has been cut nearly in half since 2010. The data revealed a 17 percent decrease in veteran homelessness between January 2015 and January 2016—quadruple the previous year’s annual decline— and a 47 percent decrease since 2010.