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New LA Homeless Numbers: ‘Stark Condemnation of City Council Policies’

GUEST WORDS-The Coalition to Preserve LA said today that a sharp jump in homelessness in Los Angeles, as reported today, vividly points up the devastating effects of LA City Council practices that are driving tragic levels of human displacement and the demolition of 20,000 rent-stabilized apartments that can never be fully replaced. 

A map published this morning by the Los Angeles Times shows in vivid color the city’s heavy new concentrations of severe homelessness -- particularly in Downtown Los Angeles, Venice and Hollywood, areas targeted by multimillionaire developers for frenzied levels of demolition and luxury housing construction. 

Jill Stewart, campaign director for the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative sponsored by the Coalition to Preserve LA, called the new data “a stark condemnation of the Los Angeles City Council’s policies to destroy working-class communities and replace them with half-empty luxury towers built by developers who give the City Council a lot of campaign cash.” 

A City of Los Angeles housing report from late 2015 shows that even as homelessness surges citywide, the Los Angeles City Council clings to policies that exacerbate the problem. The city itself admits that housing projects it approved during the past 10 years suffer from a huge vacancy rate of 12%, and that this empty “market rate” housing is aimed at households earning more than $100,000. 

Meanwhile, average people and the poor cannot find a place to rent. 

Older apartments are being destroyed at a fast pace instead of being preserved, and the City Council has no plan for preserving the older and inexpensive rental housing that acts as the safety net for LA’s working class and middle class. 

“The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative on the March ballot will force the City Council to end its behavior of fanning this frenzy of luxury development,” Stewart said. “We are talking about a group of Los Angeles politicians who take huge sums of money from developers, encourage them to build massive luxury complexes that rent for $3,000 or worse, and then they ignore the displacement of longtime residents due to runaway gentrification they create.” 

In a City Hall affordable housing report released earlier in 2016, Stewart notes, the City does not mention its key role in driving up homelessness. 

Instead, the city report blamed this traffic trend on numerous factors that don’t lead back to City Hall.  

(John Schwada is a former investigative reporter for Fox 11 in Los Angeles, the LA Times and the late Herald Examiner and is the Communications Director for the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. He is a contributor to CityWatch. His consulting firm is MediaFix Associates.) Photo credits: Top-LA Times, above right-LACurbed.

-cw