Homelessness is the biggest crisis facing our city, and even though the numbers are fewer in the West Valley than every other part of the city, and my district is the second lowest out of all council districts, it is still a crisis. I am frustrated and saddened to see so many people without a home and to hear stories of how people lost their housing after a medical crisis, a lost job, or other personal misfortunes that can happen to anyone. Based on the 2019 Homeless Count there are approximately 36,300 homeless individuals in the City of Los Angeles. Due to Constitutional rights and protections, the City cannot force anyone to move or go someplace else for help. However, with persistence, we have helped people move out of homelessness and become productive community members with stable housing.
One of the ways we can engage with homeless people is through persistent outreach. LA-HOP is an important tool that you can use to help report the location of homeless people (https://www.lahsa.org/portal/apps/la-hop/). This system is designed to link City and County resources. When you put a request into this system, dedicated caseworkers are sent out to a homeless site. These caseworkers are trained in a variety of fields to adequately address all types of homeless situations, such as those who are just down on their luck as well as those with chronic addiction or mental illness issues. These caseworkers are persistent in their endeavor to connect with homeless people and will continue to visit a homeless site to establish a positive relationship with these folks.
For those homeless folks living in tents on the sidewalk, the City policy is guided by court rulings which have restricted many options. LAPD can request or order a homeless person to move if they violate certain laws such as the ADA requirements for sidewalks. If a tent or encampment is blocking the sidewalk then the City can enforce Ordinance 56.11 (http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2014/14-1656_misc_05-21-2015.pdf), but it does not allow for the immediate removal of property. Court related compromises have established that the City must first provide 72 hours of notice and allow a person on the street to keep a 60-gallon container’s worth of personal belongings before addressing an encampment. Nonetheless, I regularly pay for extra HOPE teams from my limited office budget. HOPE teams are comprised of Sanitation workers, LAHSA caseworkers, and LAPD officers to conduct extra encampment cleanups in the West Valley. This allows them to supplement regular work with overtime work so we can have more cleanups in our area.
There are also many great non-profits that work with the homeless as well as religious institutions. I encourage you to reach out to them as they can often use donations and volunteers. Some organizations include Los Angeles Family Housing, Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, and the West Valley Food Pantry.