LA, NYC mayors announce new programs to tackle rising number of homelessness

On Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new programs to tackle homelessness in their respective cities.

In Los Angeles, the city council initially approved a plan that would allow public buildings to shelter the homeless. These buildings, which are vacant municipal structures and parking facilities, would be selected by council members in consultation with residents. The plan would also allow people living in their cars to stay overnight in designated parking lots, although only a limited number of vehicles will be permitted.

In New York City, Mayor de Blasio announced a $2.6 billion plan to create 15,000 new housing units for the homeless over the next 15 years. The program will give subsidies and tax credits to nonprofits and developers to support the building of the new supportive-housing units.

The plan will be paired with social services, such as mental and physical health care and substance abuse programs and residents using the services would pay about 30 percent of their income or monthly support in return. The mayor reassures that between private funding and budgets already allocated to tackling homelessness, the plan is largely already paid for.

These plans come in response to a mounting homelessness problem in New York City and Los Angeles, which are the largest and second largest city in the U.S. respectively.

Back in September, Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti declared the rising homelessness a “state of emergency,” giving it a status equal to natural disaster.

The declaration included a proposal of $100 million for housing and other programs to help solve the issue, though no action was taken until Tuesday’s announcement.

New York City residents feel that the homelessness population is out of control as people began setting up campsites in public parks. Mayor de Blasio made his announcement after a New York city-state housing plan with Governor Andrew Cuomo fell through, hoping to alleviate the 62 percent of New Yorkers who disapprove of how he’s handling the homeless issue.

As of January 2014, the national homelessness count stood at 578,424 which was a two percent decrease since 2013, but still an approximate 18 homeless for every 10,000 persons in the public. Of that number, 44,539 was were reported in Los Angeles county — a 12 percent increase since 2013 — and 59,305 were in New York City, an 85 percent increase from 10 years ago.

The announcements come ahead of HUD Secretary Julian Castro’s national media call on Wednesday to discuss the January 2015 Point-In-Time (PIT) Estimates of Homelessness. The PIT count is an annual estimate conducted in January in communities across the country to enumerate homeless persons living in emergency shelter, transitional housing, or on the street.