Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer drafted a new ordinance banning homeless encampments from certain locations during a city council meeting Oct. 26, but many city council members are questioning where those inhabiting the encampments will go once they are ordered to leave.
Under the proposed ordinance, law enforcement would be permitted to remove certain homeless encampments after offering alternative shelter to the homeless living there. Those opposed to the ordnance feel that there are not enough housing resources to move people out of the encampments.
Councilman Mike Bonin stated in the city council meeting that he felt that the city has not yet provided enough housing options for those struggling with homelessness.
“My problem with the ordinances before us is they assume the existence of the alternative resources.” Bonin said, “The way to get people off the streets is through housing, shelter, and services, not legislative fiats that only serve to push encampments deeper into residential neighborhoods.”
City council members pointed out that the proposal was meant to limit homeless encampments near freeways and not be a solution for the homeless crisis. The ordinance limits sitting, lying, sleeping and keeping personal items on public property including near freeways, certain homeless shelters and on sidewalks.
According to the responses from city council members, there must be more housing options available to the homeless of Los Angeles County before they begin creating laws regarding where they can sleep while on the streets. Making it illegal for people to live on the streets but not providing them with a place to go will lead to an increase in arrests of the homeless. The concern is that this ordinance will cause the criminalization of homelessness.
Many advocates for the homeless protested during the meeting at City Hall, voicing their concerns that removing encampments would take away the only safe area the homeless of Los Angeles have and would make being homeless a crime.
Many city council members also expressed concerns over enforcement of the new ordinance stating that the police department should not be in charge of removing the homeless as they are not equipped to handle issues like housing and mental illness.
Deliberation will continue as to how this ordinance will be enforced or if any changes will be made to address the many concerns that came up during the council meeting. If a decision is reached the city of Los Angeles will see the relocation of homeless communities and many changes in their neighborhoods.
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