As Homeless Crisis Worsens, L.A. Officials Want State of Emergency Declared

A homeless person sleeps beneath a blanket on a bus bench on South Grand Avenue in Los Angeles in this undated photo. (Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Facing a deepening quagmire over homeless encampments, Los Angeles elected officials are increasingly looking to sweeping statewide initiatives to shake loose solutions. The latest proposal from Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and City Councilman Joe Buscaino would have the governor declare a state of emergency on homelessness in California.

Supporters view such a declaration as a novel strategy to free up state and federal funding typically reserved for natural disasters, such as earthquakes or wildfires, and to suspend or streamline the regulatory hurdles that often slow down shelter and housing development. It also could block NIMBY opponents from using environmental reviews to sue and delay or block homeless facilities from opening.

But some question whether an emergency declaration would be merely symbolic, given President Trump’s rejections of more federal funding and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s commitment of $1 billion for local homeless programs and support for more regulatory relief.

Last week, Newsom signed a package of legislation that, among other things, exempts from environmental review supportive housing and shelter projects in the city of L.A. that receive funding from certain public sources, including the $1.2-billion Proposition HHH housing bond that voters approved in 2016.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.