– Mike Feuer
There are at least 41,000 people experiencing homelessness in our city, nearly 30,000 of whom have no shelter on a given night. Our homelessness emergency is the result of an acute lack of affordable housing, joblessness and underemployment, a failed mental health system, substance abuse fueled by the opioid and methamphetamine epidemic, a legacy of systemic racism, domestic abuse, and many other factors. It touches every neighborhood. Tackling this crisis requires a balanced approach that leads with humanity, housing, and services and ensures that our public spaces are safe and accessible to everyone.
As Mayor, my goal will be to make shelter available for all by the end of my first term. I will approach homelessness as the emergency it is. On day one, I will declare a Homelessness State of Emergency so I can do the most possible to implement swift and decisive solutions. To streamline this effort, I will appoint and empower a high-level point person on homelessness, who will report directly to me. This key leader will coordinate the efforts of every City department and work across jurisdictional lines to implement an urgent and cohesive response to this crisis.
I will convene community stakeholders—L.A.’s largest companies, philanthropies, banks, and others—to expand private investments in homeless and affordable housing, building on successful projects that have relied on pools of revolving private capital to quickly create cost-effective units. I will empower a City Hall Homeless and Affordable Housing Strike Team that will expedite the construction of temporary shelters and permanent supportive housing, and I will make general managers’ tenures contingent on success.
– Mike Feuer
In addition, I will continue to champion the fastest and most cost-effective housing options for people experiencing homelessness, including converting existing motel rooms into longer-term homeless housing through initiatives like Project Homekey, because those units can be occupied faster and at a lower cost than building from the ground up. I will pursue the construction of prefabricated homes and lead efforts to have them manufactured right here in Los Angeles. I will advocate for additional state and federal resources to fund permanent supportive housing, and partner with social service providers to create a more efficient pathway to that housing.
Even though we must focus our efforts on developing the permanent supportive housing that people experiencing homelessness need, we must also offer short-term solutions to address the immediate crisis on our streets. That’s why I will drastically expand temporary housing. As Mayor, I will seek federal support to secure more beds in local motel and hotel rooms for people experiencing homelessness through the extension of Project Roomkey. I will lead efforts to explore and implement a wide range of solutions, from villages of tiny houses to 3-D printed units to networks of sprung shelters. Further, I will take steps to improve the city and county’s rapid rehousing programs to maximize the use of short-term rental vouchers that temporarily support individuals while they get back on their feet and look for full-time employment. By urgently pursuing every option for temporary shelter, I will work to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness by thousands each year.
Because our immediate objective must be to save lives by quickly transitioning people experiencing homelessness into housing with appropriate services, our outreach strategy must improve. Outreach workers still do not have hand-held devices showing all available beds on a given night. They frequently overlap and often do not coordinate effectively. They often lack accountability for meaningful outcomes for individuals, focusing instead on geographic areas. And too often, outreach strategies have failed to focus on moving people experiencing homelessness into shelter as quickly as possible. We need to do better. The streets are no place for our unhoused neighbors to live, and our outreach strategy needs to reflect that. We must focus on urgently moving Angelenos off the streets and into housing that is safe and equipped with the services they need. Following repeated offers of such housing, a person experiencing homelessness should have a clear “choice date,” after which they are no longer permitted to remain where they have been encamped. And our public parks—essential for everyone’s recreation and enjoyment in a park-poor city—should be off-limits to encampments in the first place. As Mayor, I will ensure a unified outreach strategy that achieves the most important measurable outcome—diminishing the number of people on our streets relegated to homelessness.
– Mike Feuer
At the same time, we must improve the quality and effectiveness of the services we offer to people experiencing homelessness. People experiencing homelessness require more than just shelter. They often need access to physical and mental health services, substance abuse rehabilitation, legal counsel to help them remove outstanding fines or citations, or professional guidance when applying for public benefits. It’s imperative that these services address the needs of the whole person. As Mayor, I will promote programs that treat physical and mental health and help unhoused Angelenos become productive members of their communities. An example is the "Trieste model" that has been proposed for Hollywood, which would not only focus on traditional physical and mental health treatment, but also help individuals establish meaningful community connections, process experiences of trauma and inequity, and pursue employment. I will also work to dramatically expand deployment of teams of mental health experts, nurses, and housing navigators to homeless encampments to speed up the transition of people into shelters and help them get back on their feet. And I will lead a much deeper collaboration between the County, which operates mental health and substance abuse services, and the City, which sites and pays to construct housing.
Early intervention is one of the best strategies for reducing chronic homelessness. What’s more, a targeted one-time intervention of just $1,500 is 99.5% effective at preventing someone from newly falling into homelessness. As Mayor, I will sustain and expand a robust emergency relief fund for individuals at risk of experiencing homelessness or who have become homeless in the last 90 days. By collecting and organizing valuable data and directing one-time, small-dollar interventions to those who need it most, we can prevent thousands of people from becoming homeless every year.
As Mayor, I will work with public and private sector actors, non-profit groups, and labor organizations to develop and support vocational, career-technical and job training programs that not only prepare people experiencing homelessness to succeed in the workforce, but also connect them with prospective employers so they have a job lined up and a guaranteed source of income after they complete their training.
I’ve long advocated for more focused leadership on homelessness and am proud that my work to prevent people from experiencing homeless, intervene when they do and protect vulnerable Angelenos has been recognized by the Weingart Center for the Homeless, the Inner City Law Center, the Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness, the California Lawyer Magazine, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles and others. Under my leadership as L.A. City Attorney, my office started the Los Angeles Diversion, Outreach, and Opportunities for Recovery (LA DOOR) program. This health-centered outreach program seeks to support individuals struggling with substance abuse in under-served communities by: 1) sending a mobile team of trained experts to provide field-based housing and health services to those in need and 2) offering a pre-booking diversion pathway to treatment in lieu of prosecution for those with misdemeanor drug-related arrests. With a similar goal in mind, we also created the Homeless Engagement and Response Team (HEART) that helps Angelenos experiencing homelessness resolve and remove low-level infractions such as fines, warrants and citations from their records in exchange for using the services and resources available to them through the program. Moreover, I led efforts to combat the dumping of homeless patients on Skid Row and elsewhere, obtaining millions in penalties and changing discharge practices to prevent others from being victimized.
– Mike Feuer
Additionally, my office partnered with the Los Angeles court system to eliminate nearly two million stale citations against indigent, predominantly homeless people that were impeding their access to housing, jobs, and other essential services. Similarly, we created Clean Slate, a program that connects low-level, non-violent homeless offenders to services, and a program with the Public Defender to direct mentally ill defendants, the majority of whom are experiencing homelessness, away from the criminal justice system and into social service programs.
As a member of the California Legislature, I wrote the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act, preventing tenants throughout the state from being evicted by expanding access to free legal services. And, earlier in my career, I served as the Executive Director of Bet Tzedek, the House of Justice, which assisted more than 50,000 clients during my tenure, including people experiencing or on the verge of homelessness. Under my leadership, Bet Tzedek assisted vulnerable seniors and families in homeless shelters across Los Angeles from Westwood to Bell.