The Los Angeles Housing Crisis

The Los Angeles Housing Crisis

Editorial: A fact check on Rick Caruso’s magical thinking about L.A. homelessness

In the latest issue of his weekly L.A. magazine, Caruso, who runs a business called City of Good Neighbors that helps homeless individuals, asserts that as few as six people are “homeless” in L.A. today. If you call the state of California, he said, you might have to wait half an hour to speak with someone who has actually been in a homeless shelter.

But California state officials tell us the state has a homeless problem and that the state spends more than $200 million every year on homeless services.

You can read our full cover story, with a lengthy transcript on the numbers, on the front page, or subscribe online to get the latest copy.

The problem has a complicated history. Los Angeles had three million citizens before the 1980s, and had been home to a thriving Hollywood and the entertainment industry since the 1920s. But by 1960, a combination of high taxes, high crime and rampant unemployment made its population decline until it had been down to just 3,800,000 by 2000. Some of that unemployment was caused by the failure of the movie industry to create a film with a “street-oriented” message. Others was caused by the failure of government to create programs that would encourage people to move up the economic ladder and find jobs.

In 2000, the City Council passed a comprehensive land use plan called the Downtown Plan to turn a long-term decline into a renaissance. It declared that the city’s future relied not on movies or big box retailers, but on people making the city an integral part of their lives to achieve the city’s goals of becoming the Silicon Valley of the South Bay.

In 2006, voters approved Proposition 1, a $1.2 billion bond measure to clean up streets, install safety measures and build more safe streets. In addition to safety improvements, the bond issue included a plan that would take care of the homeless who were flooding into the area and driving up the numbers of homeless services employees, who would otherwise be working with people in substandard housing.

On Jan. 2, 2007, L.A. voters approved

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