The National Alliance to End Homelessness says in January of 2020, there were more than 580,000 people across the U.S. experiencing homelessness. In Los Angeles, more than 40,000 people are experiencing homelessness.
Susan Shelley, editorial writer for the Los Angeles Daily News told NewsNation the housing first philosophy doesn’t work for everyone experiencing homelessness.
“Housing first is fine for people who are homeless due to poverty. But for people who are severely mentally ill, gravely disabled by mental illness, it’s no solution,” Shelley said.
The housing first model of addressing homelessness focuses on getting people into housing without any additional requirements like sobriety or mental health treatment.
Shelley said the plan Bass introduced fails to offer resources for those who are on the streets due to substance use or mental illness rather than poverty.
“This plan has no plan for funding large psychiatric hospitals. So there are not enough beds for the people who need them. There is no plan for large facilities for substance abuse disorder treatment,” she said.
LA had similar programs in place during the height of the COVID pandemic, beginning with housing people in hotels, and then eventually the city began buying hotels to offer more permanent housing.
“It has all been done in a big hurry without a lot of oversight, without any public input on where these locations are, or what the impact is on the community, or whether the program is even effective,” Shelley said of previous efforts.
The program is also an expense for the government and takes away from revenue hotels typically bring to the city.
In 2024, LA residents will be able to vote on a ballot measure that would require L.A. County shelters to house people in unbooked hotel rooms overnight.