Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles bans homeless encampments near schools and daycare centers

Beth Torres

During a contentious public meeting, the Los Angeles City Council voted to move forward with an ordinance banning homeless encampments near daycare centers and schools. For nearly an hour, protesters against the ban shouted down councilmembers, forcing the council to clear the chambers so the meeting could continue.

The council voted 11 to 3 to prohibit homeless encampments within 500 feet of daycare establishments and schools. This ban greatly expands the existing restrictions enacted last year that prohibited homeless encampments from a few dozen locations. The new ordinance identifies more than a thousand locations where homeless encampments will be prohibited.

Los Angeles public school officials say the ban was needed to protect the safety of children, parents, and school personnel. Proponents of the ban cite the over 120 new homeless encampments springing up near schools over the last year as a growing cause for concern. The encampments pose a public health risk, are traumatic and dangerous for children, and block access to school campuses.

People opposing the ban say it criminalizes poverty and does nothing to solve Los Angeles’ homeless crisis. They say it will take focus and funds away from providing affordable housing solutions. City officials admit that enforcing the ban will take teams of people and will be a challenge given the large number of homeless encampments.

Number of people at risk for homelessness grows in California

Los Angeles is the epicenter of one of the country’s worst housing crises, with a homeless population estimated at 66,400 people in Los Angeles County. These numbers could grow even higher as pandemic-related eviction moratoriums end.

Affordable rental housing is now out of reach for many Los Angeles renters, particularly those on fixed incomes or earning minimum wage. A report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) reveals you would need to earn $30.85 an hour just to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment in L.A. This is well out of reach for those earning the Los Angeles County minimum wage of $16.04 an hour.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 1.4 million California renters are behind on their rent payments. This number is part of the Census Bureau’s “Household Pulse” survey project undertaken to determine how the pandemic has impacted people’s lives.

The Census Bureau states their numbers are estimates only based on sample sizes and that standard errors may be large. However, if their estimates are anywhere close to realistic, California could soon see a tidal wave of newly evicted and/or homeless people.

The survey asked participants the likelihood they would have to leave their rental units because they were being evicted. Approximately 290,000 California renters fall into the “very likely” category that they will have to leave their homes due to eviction in the next two months.

What are your thoughts on L.A.’s homeless encampment ban?

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