Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, has written a letter to President Donald Trump requesting help in dealing with the problem of homelessness, as the number of people spending the night on the streets in the city continues to rise. In the letter, made public on 9 January, the head of Los Angeles asked for federal aid in order to provide services to rough sleepers, “move unhoused neighbours into shelter and build permanent housing”.
The 48-year-old also said he had held negotiations on the issue with Housing Secretary Ben Carson and praised his colleague for reaching out to him.
"During our conversation he expressed a commitment to working with cities nationwide to help accelerate our progress in addressing this emergency by investing in strong, humane and lasting approaches that can help get people off the street and save lives", Garcetti said.
The development represents a change in the administration’s relationship with California’s and LA’s authorities. During his visits, President Trump has chastised officials for the growing homelessness crisis, while Housing Secretary Ben Carson rejected California’s request for funding to be increased to the state in order to cope with the problem.
Earlier this week, the housing secretary said that US authorities need to alleviate the suffering of rough sleepers while announcing that he had held negotiations with Mayor Garcetti and Kathryn Barger, chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Supervisor's Office, in posts on Twitter.
The homelessness crisis in California has been an entrenched problem for a longtime. Per the request of @MayorOfLA & @kathrynbarger we look forward to a new partnership that will benefit our fellow citizens.— Ben Carson (@SecretaryCarson) January 9, 2020
We must alleviate the suffering of our most vulnerable Californians in the most compassionate way possible. It is with that goal in mind that I have entered into discussions with @MayorOfLA @kathrynbarger in an effort to ensure those vulnerable receive the compassion they deserve— Ben Carson (@SecretaryCarson) January 9, 2020
The Trump administration is now working to solve the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles and other cities in California. On 9 January, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans to create a $750 million fund that will help provide services to the homeless.
The City of Angels and… Homeless
After New York, Los Angeles is the US city with the highest number of rough sleepers, but what makes the city stand apart is the amount of homeless people not living in emergency shelters. Most of the homeless live on the streets. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 130,000 people are homeless on any given day in California and the overall number of rough sleepers in LA stands at almost 50,000.
The causes of the problem are the same as everywhere else – unaffordable housing and low wages. Half of the homeless people in LA say that they found themselves on the streets because they lost their jobs and couldn’t pay rent. According to the BBC, almost 800,000 people in Los Angeles spend more than 90 percent of their income on rent.