Cost of Los Angeles Homeless Shelter Insanely High

SDM News

In Los Angeles, city authorities wrestling with a current lack of accommodation crisis have decided to go for a plan that for a long time was politically disliked and thought unconventional: federally funded tent housing.

Image From KCRW by Anna Scott

Different urban communities, including San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa, Fla., have started similar projects lately. However, the steep cost of LA's initially authorized campsite — over $2,600 for a tent, every month — has advocates concerned that it will come at the detriment of more permanent lodging.

The campground was open to the public in late April on a fenced-in parking garage alongside the 101 freeway in East Hollywood. The garage-turned-camping area can take up to around 70 tents in 12-by-12-foot spots set apart by white squares painted on the concrete.

Recently one afternoon, the site was almost at full capacity. A line of port-a-potties were arranged on one side of the camp. The program also serves three meals a day, round the clock security and showers. Campers are added to the province's database set for coordinating unhoused individuals with social services and accommodation assets.

"The thing that we can do here is just deal with the basic needs," says Lena Miller, CEO of Urban Alchemy, the nonprofit hired to run the new campsite. "Hygiene, food, medical attention."

For camper Prince Page, the site gives a feeling of security that he would be unable to get in a tent in the city.

"That sense of security, it's hard to find," he says. "That's really what I've been looking for. Somewhere I could think, get my thoughts together, know what my next step is. And I've been able to do that so far."

Some advocates for people without accommodation, however, are concerned that the expenses might be too much.

According to a report by the city administrative officer, the new East Hollywood camping area costs around $2,663 per member each month. That is higher than what an average one-room condo rents for around there, as per the site RentCafe. While the per-tent expense covers administrations, feeding, cleaning and staffing, some are worried that the city is putting a lot into temporary Band-Aids over arrangements for the long haul.

"If you can paint lines on a sidewalk for the same cost that you can give someone the rent for an apartment," says Shayla Myers, an attorney with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, "I'm concerned that our city is making the choice to paint the lines rather than actually get people into housing."

City Controller Ron Galperin, LA's priority budget supervisor, says that while the East Hollywood camping program is costly, "doing nothing also costs a lot of money."

"When people are on our sidewalks, that is already costing us money in terms of public safety, police and fire emergency services, paramedic, sanitation, street services, hospitals, jails," he added

Image From Getty Images by AFP

Another cause for concern is that more government-endorsed camping areas will mean more police authorization for the individuals who can't enter the camp or don't want to.

"It can't be the type of offer that leads to criminalization and displacement and the shutting down of other public spaces," says Myers of Legal Aid.

One of Los Angeles Councilmember Joe Buscaino, then, says enforcement is necessary in the plan. He is of the opinion that the city should completely prohibit setting up camp on walkways and in parks.

"Right now in the city of Los Angeles, it's a free-for-all," says Buscaino. "You can camp, sleep, lie anywhere and everywhere that you so deem."

To do that legitimately, courts have said, city authorities have to first provide other options.

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