When it comes to homelessness in Los Angeles, what’s at work isn’t working. The unhoused continue to die on our public streets and sidewalks, and residents watch helplessly as our neighborhoods are transformed into stunning indictments of our failed social safety system. We need a different approach. We need to admit that the City and the County are structurally incapable of responding with appropriate urgency and vigor to our homelessness crisis, and must enter into a judicial consent decree under the supervision of U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter.

That is a difficult and a controversial thing for an…

Our System Makes People Harder and More Expensive to Help

by Councilmember Mike Bonin

A newly diagnosed lung cancer patient asks her doctor what the recommended treatment is.

“I’m sorry,” the doctor says, “but we only treat late-stage cancer. Come back in a year when the cancer has spread and your prognosis is worse. We’ll do our best to help you then.”

That’s a crazy scenario. It would be irresponsible and life-threatening. And ultimately, it would make saving the patient’s life significantly harder and more expensive.

Unfortunately, that’s often how we deal with homelessness in Los Angeles. …

What if we spent $30 million in public funds and got nothing for it? That’s the question I have been asking about the costs and benefits of the city’s program of clean-ups of homeless encampments — a program virtually no one is satisfied with.

Over the past several years, as encampments have proliferated in neighborhoods around Los Angeles, city agencies have developed an ever-expanding program that demands a massive allocation of money and personnel but lacks clearly stated goals and has no metrics by which to measure success.

Some people strongly support clean-ups and insist the city needs to do…

In Los Angeles, with our homeless crisis growing worse by the day, we can get hundreds of people off the street and into housing in the next couple days — but we refuse to.

We are housing more people than ever in Los Angeles, but not nearly as quickly as people are becoming homeless. The pathways into homelessness are big, varied, and fast-moving. But the pathways out of homelessness are few, narrow, and move far too slowly. As long as that’s the case, this crisis will worsen, people will die, and our neighborhoods will deteriorate.

For more than a decade…

The homelessness crisis in Los Angeles is getting worse. After several declarations of emergency, the development of comprehensive strategies, voter approval of taxes to address homelessness, and the launch of new programs, how the hell is that possible?

Here’s the short answer: We are housing homeless people in record numbers, but people are becoming homeless more quickly than we can house them. When someone becomes homeless, it happens fast, and in a variety of ways. When someone gets housed, it happens at an infuriatingly slow place, and in narrow and limited ways.

We are going to see more tents on…

In nearly every corner of Los Angeles, there are homeless encampments — collections of flimsy tents, usually within mere feet of a school, a park, a business, or someone’s home. Their presence invariably sparks a neighborhood debate, with loud voices proclaiming that “those people” are there by choice.

It’s not politically correct to admit it, but it’s true: most people in Los Angeles are homeless by choice. Our choice, not theirs.

Many major cities have a large homeless population, but only in Los Angeles does such a large percentage sleep without any sort of roof, seeking refuge on cold, hard…

Mike Bonin

Councilmember representing the Westside of LA; Director, LA Metro; Comic book fan; Dad and Husband.

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