Photo by Flickr user Franco Folini/Creative Commons.
Los Angeles City Council members introduced separate measures Wednesday aimed at tackling both the homeless problem, and protecting the rights of low-income renters.
Five council members introduced a measure to create a committee intended to help get the nearly 23,000 homeless off the streets and into housing.
This follows a city report showing the problem costs the city $100 million annually.
“Homelessness has been, and continues to be, one of the most difficult issues I have had to confront as a public official, “ said Council President Herb Wesson, in a released statement. “The intractable nature of the problem, and the urgent need for a road-map to an effective comprehensive approach demands the focus that an Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness will provide.”
District 14 Councilman Jose Huizar will serve as chair of the Ad Hoc committee. Council members Mike Bonin, Gil Cedillo, and Curren Price Jr. supported Councilman Wesson, and Councilman Huizar in the legislation.
Councilman Huizar’s district includes Downtown’s Skid Row community.
“Homelessness in the City of Los Angeles has become a crisis of epic proportions, “ said Councilman Huizar. “As a humanitarian, public safety, and health issue, it is imperative that we act soon and with urgency.”
The committee will focus on creating a Homelessness Czar position to monitor policy, develop tracking mechanisms, and establish agreements between City and County to create a coordinated effort to address the homelessness issue, among other things.
On Wednesday the City Council also passed two motions aimed at protecting renters.
The motions, introduced by Councilman Cedillo, seek to prohibit landlords from unfair rent increase while putting pressure on them to properly maintain their properties.
Hundreds of low-income renters and advocates converged at City Hall to call for protections.
Councilman Cedillo said the measures are designed to make sure “tenants will no longer have to live in substandard conditions here in the city of Los Angeles.” Rent increases will also be monitored to keep landlords from illegally raising rents to force out tenants.
About 60 percent of the city’s residents are reportedly renters, with some areas going up as high as 75 percent.
A September 2014 study by UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs found that Los Angeles is the most expensive rental market in the nation.