Dallas is not the only major U.S. city dealing with a homelessness crisis. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has said that she will declare a “state of emergency on homelessness.”
Bass was sworn in as the city’s 43rd mayor on Sunday afternoon, after which she announced plans to declare a state of emergency in response to the city’s well-documented plague of homelessness and vagrancy.
“I will start my first day as mayor at the city’s emergency operations centers, where my first act as mayor will be to declare a state of emergency on homelessness,” she said. “My emergency declaration will recognize the severity of our crisis and break new ground to maximize our ability to urgently move people inside and do so for good.”
A declaration of emergency would allow the mayor to activate an emergency operations team and expedite development permits, contracting, and hiring. She will have the authority to suspend certain rules and regulations and let “affordable housing” projects bypass extensive reviews by city staff.
Bass said she plans to house 17,000 people within her first year in office. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, there are over 40,000 homeless people in the City of Los Angeles and more than 69,000 in Los Angeles County.
The newly-appointed mayor called upon the county government to “lock arms” with her in the effort to end homelessness.
“We know our mission: We must build housing in every neighborhood,” she said. “We cannot continue to overcrowd neighborhoods that are already overcrowded.”
Though Bass emphasized the need to house those who are living on the street, The Dallas Express has previously reported that this may not be the solution. Findings from the Center on Wealth and Poverty at the Discovery Institute assert that government efforts to address homelessness and vagrancy are “doomed to failure” because they “begin with an inadequate diagnosis of the causes.”
The report explains that although lack of housing is a “major factor” in homelessness and vagrancy, the underlying issues are not likely to be solved through “housing first” approaches, which ignore untreated mental illnesses and enable addicts to continue their drug abuse through so-called “harm reduction” projects.
If the Dallas city government does not properly address its already severe homeless and vagrancy problem, the magnitude of vagrancy on display in Los Angeles could serve as a harbinger of what’s to come. City government officials claim they do not anticipate that happening.
“Due to the collaborative efforts of service providers and the City, Dallas is not in a place where we foresee a crisis of the magnitude experienced in L.A.,” city officials told The Dallas Express.
However, polling and surveys show that residents are less than convinced, with majorities of both parties considering Dallas’ homelessness to be a serious problem. The city government has also mismanaged many efforts to combat these problems.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, city officials have made several mistakes in their endeavor to establish a “homeless services” facility in Oak Cliff. Residents have criticized the City for its poor communication with the community and its decision to set up the facility directly across the street from an elementary school.