Ending Homelessness in Los Angeles

Great cities are places of opportunity. People arrive at, or remain in, big cities in order to make better lives for themselves. And typically they typically succeed, working in manufacturing, commerce, or government, to gain a comfortable life for themselves and their children. Others, perhaps less fortunate from the start, occasionally stumble on the path to achieving their dreams. In dire need, they often find succor and shelter – however modest – in the arms of the metropolis: from its charities, its benevolent citizenry, and its government. Shouldering the responsibilities of the poor and the dependent is, in fact, part of the work that great cites have done throughout history. Today, however, Los Angeles has rejected this historic role. Our metropolitan region has avoided making fundamental changes in policies and programs that could end homelessness. Instead, politicians and policymakers seek to ‘solve’ homelessness via strategies of containment and confinement, exclusion and cleansing, and regulation and policing. The result is a constant churning of the poorest and most vulnerable, who shuffle from the streets to shelter, from shelter to jail or hospital, only to find themselves once again back on the streets. This report is an investigation into the current crisis of homelessness in Los Angeles that began in the 1980s and is still with us today. It examines how we got into this mess in the first place, and why – over two decades later – homelessness remains a stain on the urban landscape and our municipal conscience. The report outlines a plan, including what we should and should not be doing, to end homelessness in Los Angeles. (Authors)

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