Los Angeles County to declare state of emergency over homelessness

Los Angeles County to declare state of emergency over homelessness

Politicians in the greater Los Angeles area are stepping up efforts to address the homelessness crisis after decades of exploding numbers caused by permissive laws related to outdoor camping and drug use.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will declare a state of emergency on Tuesday, following a similar decree by Mayor Karen Bass on her first day in office on Dec. 12. Long Beach is also in line to do the same with its new mayor.

Los Angeles County has 69,144 homeless residents, according to the last count conducted in 2022. That’s a 4.1% increase from 2020, giving Los Angeles the dubious honor of having the second highest number of the country after New York City.

Former Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who had a task force to eradicate homelessness, told the Washington Examiner that the number was actually more than 80,000.

FILE – In this May 30, 2019 file photo, tents housing the homeless line a street in downtown Los Angeles.

(Richard Vogel/AP)

County officials said the increase was less than the 26% increase between 2018 and 2020.

“This is all driven by public reaction to the proliferation of homeless encampments over the past two or three years,” UCLA professor emeritus Gary Blasi told the Los Angeles Times. “Any politician who doesn’t make any progress on this issue is going to be in big trouble.”

Los Angeles County has newly elected supervisors, including Lindsey Horvath, who said the issue of homelessness was something discussed with Bass during their campaigns. Bass made homelessness and crime her focus during the debates with challenger Rick Caruso, promising to take on the issues and clean up the City of Angels.


Gov. Gavin Newsom has also shown public interest in eradication by refusing to release more than $1 billion in state aid until he sees an accounting of the funds passed on by cities and counties.

Yet just 18 months ago, he welcomed the world’s homeless to California, saying they would be “taken care of.”

“I’m proud of people from all over the world who are again looking at California for opportunity, and that, again, it doesn’t have to be just for certain people,” Newsom said at a news conference. “All people should aspire to that California dream, regardless of their income level and relative to their lot in life.”

Over the decades, California’s tough crime laws have been watered down, including the downgrading of many drug charges from felonies to misdemeanors. This has created open drug dens, mostly in homeless encampments, across major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.


Anti-encampment laws have also been struck down by the courts, with some limitations, following an ACLU lawsuit protecting the right of homeless individuals to sleep on the streets.

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