The homeless crisis in Los Angeles has reached a devastating state, prompting Mayor Karen Bass to sign an updated emergency declaration to address the issue. The declaration grants her additional powers to expedite housing construction, employ emergency services of city employees, and coordinate citywide planning. Mayor Bass emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating that thousands of people live in tents and cars, with up to five individuals dying on the streets every night.
Despite significant housing investment initiatives, homelessness in Los Angeles County has increased by 9% and 10% in the city, as per recent data. California has the highest number of homeless individuals nationwide, with 30% of all homeless people in the country residing in the state. Los Angeles has experienced a surge in homeless encampments, leading to rising crime rates and unsanitary conditions.
To combat the crisis, Mayor Bass launched an initiative called Inside Safe, involving outreach workers providing targeted camps with hotel rooms and aiming to transition individuals to permanent housing quickly. However, the program has faced challenges, including limited movement from hotels to permanent housing, difficulties providing healthcare services, and concerns about long-term funding.
In response to the homelessness issue, a controversial ballot measure is set to be voted on next year. The action would require hotels in Los Angeles to rent vacant rooms to homeless individuals, with the city's housing department coordinating the program. Unite Here Local 11, a labor union representing hospitality workers has supported this measure and has also been involved in strikes by hotel workers demanding higher wages and better benefits.
The Coordinated Bargaining Group, representing LA-area hotels, has accused the union of breaking the law through strikes unrelated to employee representation and potentially harmful to the tourism industry. Among the group's complaints is the union's support for the measure requiring hotels to house people experiencing homelessness and a proposed 7% tax on hotel guests to assist hospitality workers in accessing affordable housing.
In summary, Los Angeles faces a worsening homeless crisis, prompting Mayor Karen Bass to take further action through an updated emergency declaration. Efforts to address the issue include the Inside Safe program, but challenges regarding housing, healthcare, and long-term funding still need to be discussed. A contentious ballot measure to require hotels to rent vacant rooms to homeless people has also generated debate and strikes within the hospitality sector.