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Councilmember Harris-Dawson Statement on Approval of Homelessness Measures

November 17, 2015

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(LOS ANGELES, CA) November 17, 2015 – Today as Co-Chair of the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, I led my colleagues in taking the important steps towards addressing our growing homelessness problem. With a unanimous vote from the council members, we managed to find compromise among the varying opinions. We found common ground on declaring a shelter crisis, which would facilitate more emergency shelters in the city and looked at options for a “safe parking” program for people who are forced to live in their cars. Today we made progress in balancing the needs of every Angeleno and began to provide solutions and resources to help these individuals get back on theirfeet.

As the Co-Chair, I am tasked with guiding our City Council to invest the time and resources necessary to combat the crisis we are facing. We created a $100 million fund to address homelessness, which will be guided by a strategic plan to be completed by February. We are aligning our plan with L.A. County to have broad and far-reaching impact on the homeless population.

In dealing with Los Angeles Municipal Code 56.11, I advocated that we utilize the sensible approach to balancing the need for clean and safe streets and sidewalks with the rights and needs of individuals experiencing homelessness. I agree that these encampments have become a dangerous issue, but creating a new set of misdemeanors and penalties sets us off course.

With this amended code, we ensure the ability to remove bulky items that tents must be deconstructed during the daytime and no property can be attached to trees or fences. We are also instructing the Department of Sanitation to convene with LAPD and other City Departments to work through a consistent set of implementation protocols, to clarify the divisions of responsibility among them, and to ensure that individuals are given a reasonable opportunity to comply before property is impounded.

I take supreme pride in being the Councilman of the Eighth district, a district that is all too familiar with being consciously neglected and starved of resources as our surrounding neighbors and communities flourished with development, stable housing and job opportunities, so I can see the effects of what this disinvestment does.

We must not dismiss or ignore the fact that we as a City have failed to provide adequate support to our most vulnerable population. Many of our homeless have struggled with mental illness and/or drug addiction, and are in need of a helping hand to repair their lives. We need to do everything in our power to reverse this all too familiar trend in our city.

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