Mayor Garcetti’s Letter to President Trump on the Homeless Crisis

VOICES -- Today, Trump Administration officials visited Los Angeles to learn more about the city’s response to the homelessness crisis.

Mayor Garcetti’s staff took the Trump Administration officials on a tour of the Unified Homelessness Response Center, the redevelopment of Jordan Downs public housing complex, prefabricated Flyaway Homes, and the St. Andrews Place A Bridge Home shelter recently opened in South L.A. (Above graphic credit: variety.com)

The Mayor’s Office also hand-delivered the following letter to Trump’s team asking for increased federal assistance to combat homelessness in American cities:

September 10, 2019 

President Donald J. Trump
The White House  
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW 
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump,

I appreciate your staff’s visit to Los Angeles this week to learn about our city’s work on homelessness. Any day that our nation’s federal leaders are willing to listen to Americans living in our 19,000 local communities across this country about the challenges that they face is a good day.

To cut to the chase, if you are committed to working with America’s cities and local leaders to address the national epidemic of homelessness there’s a lot you and your Administration can do. While homelessness has increased in cities across the United States in recent years, it’s a problem that predates your administration and mine.

This is a crisis decades in the making.  Homeless Americans share one thing in common--trauma. Whether it is a veteran on our streets suffering from PTSD, a woman who has survived domestic violence, or a family whose breadwinner suffers a workplace injury and can’t make the rent, Americans need your help.

Our country faces an ever-higher cost of living, a national economy that has hollowed out our middle-class and federal government cuts to vital housing funds and social services. We hope the federal government can be part of the solution. 

In Los Angeles, we are taking bold steps forward. Our voters approved the two largest anti-homeless ballot measures in our nation’s history. Together, they expand outreach services, mental health care, shelter beds, and permanent affordable housing with services by more than $4.5 billion over a decade. This money, together with private, state, and faith-based sources of funding we have increased the number of people we are housing from about 9,000 in 2014 to more than 21,000 last year. 

At the most recent conference on homelessness in Washington DC, Los Angeles was seen as a national model for our comprehensive approach to homelessness. We are also addressing the conditions on our streets, with tens of millions of dollars for clean-ups, including hiring Americans experiencing homelessness as sanitation workers cleaning up our hardest-hit neighborhoods. But it is clear that no local government, including ours, can address homelessness on our own.

For many years, the federal government has woefully underfunded our housing safety net, contributing to homelessness. The federal government cut HUD funding for the production of new housing and preservation by 31% for the 2016-2018 time period, and according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, only one in four low-income families who qualify for housing assistance actually receive it. This pressure is acutely felt here in Los Angeles, where 36,000 people experience homelessness on any given night.

Unfortunately, far too many veterans are homeless in Los Angeles and across America, abandoned by our federal government after they defend our nation in the Armed Forces. Veterans comprise 13% of our country’s homeless population, compared with 7% of our country’s total population. While Los Angeles has seen a 41% reduction in veteran’s homelessness, the most recent count showed 3,886 Angeleno veterans were homeless. Federal programs to house veterans' are successful, yet underfunded.

If you and your Administration would like to help Los Angeles and other American cities confront our homelessness crisis, I urge you to take the following actions immediately and work with America’s communities to bring all Americans home:

  • Support the bipartisan Fighting Homelessness Through Services & Housing Act, S. 923 and the End Homelessness Act, H.R. 1856 which further expand the housing safety net with new grants and mental health programs to help cities combat homelessness over the next five years;
  • Uphold the Veteran Administration’s vision to build at least 1,200 units of housing for homeless veterans on the West LA VA Campus by providing capital funding for new housing development and addressing the severe infrastructure needs of this federal land;
  • In your FY2021 Budget Request, build up the nation’s housing safety net and support higher appropriations for the programs that have been proven to solve homelessness and create economic opportunities for hard-working Americans. Some of those critical programs are: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Homeless Assistance Grants, HUD’s block grant programs (HOME, CDBG, HOPWA, and ESG), HUD’s project-based and tenant-based rental assistance programs (including HUD-VASH), capital and operating funds for the nation’s dwindling supply of public housing, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and the VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program;
  • Rescind HUD’s proposed rules to evict mixed-status immigrant families from assisted housing and prevent transgender homeless people from accessing federally funded shelters; and
  • Protect critical fair housing laws by upholding the previous administration’s “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” and “Disparate Impact” rules.

We must put politics aside when it comes to responding to this heartbreaking humanitarian crisis. I hope you will provide the federal assistance that is needed to help cities stop homelessness in America and help our veterans and most vulnerable of citizens.  This is our watch. This is our time. This must be done. I look forward to working with you and your Administration on this issue.


Eric Garcetti 
City of Los Angeles