Posted by: coastcontact | August 5, 2017

Homelessness in the West Valley is a Serious Problem

While this commentary by Councilmember Blumenfield explains the issue of homelessness it lacks any solutions. We all know homelessness is a crisis and “work with the community to help our homeless while also protecting the values and integrity of the West Valley” really means preventing any homeless people from living in the West Valley.

Neither  Blumenfield nor any other councilman has a single worthwhile idea on how to solve this problem.  However the city council does have ideas on raising taxes and voting to hold the Olympics in this city.  For this we pay city council members $184,610 per year.

New Editorial from Councilmember Blumenfield for the Valley News Group- Homelessness in the West Valley is Serious and Must be Taken Seriously

Homelessness is a crisis, and although we may feel worlds away from downtown Skid Row, the West Valley is not immune. We are seeing encampments in neighborhoods that never had them before. People are visibly panhandling, and the human misery of addiction and mental illness is evident and creates a depressing and sometimes dangerous environment for the housed and the homeless. I share the frustration of residents who are very disturbed by what we are seeing. Though my district has the fewest homeless people compared to every other district in the City, homelessness in the West Valley is serious and must be taken seriously.

The reality is that it’s not illegal to be homeless, and asking strangers for money is protected by the first amendment. The courts struck down City laws that prohibited living in a vehicle or sleeping on the sidewalk. However, the City Council was able to pass laws prohibiting sleeping in a vehicle that is parked in a residential zone and limited times and places where someone can erect a tent on public property.

In September 2016, I brought together LAPD and homeless advocates for a Town Hall on homelessness. I continue to meet with constituents at mobile office hours and community events, hearing many opinions on what needs to be done. Some say the problem is addiction, or lack of mental health care, or the economy, or PTSD, or Prop 47, or a lack of affordable housing. They are all right to some extent. It is a complicated problem with a complicated road to resolve.

Recently, I introduced City legislation that will help with one related problem concerning illegal human waste being dumped on our streets. Over 2,300 RVs in Los Angeles are being used by homeless people with only two public sites for dumping waste, one by the airport and one in San Pedro. We must do something to stop illegal dumping and provide a feasible option to prevent disease and blight.

Additionally, my office coordinates “Homeless Connect Days” to connect people to services, organizes community and encampment cleanups, and promotes patrols on the LA River. I also meet regularly with LAPD Senior Lead Officers, command officers, and officials from LAHSA to discuss the tools they need to do their work. My office pushed for and funded “no loitering” signs under all freeway under passes and tunnels in my district to help LAPD connect the homeless to services. These are some steps of many that I am taking.

Thanks to voters passing Measure HHH, which my colleagues and I put on the ballot, and Measure H in the County, there are funds coming to help with housing and services. But nothing will immediately prevent homelessness. That’s why my website has links to help residents find nonprofits in the West Valley that operate locally. The idea is that a “help up” is often better than a “hand out.” So, please consider donating clothes, food, hygienic products, and funds to these organizations. Go to blumenfield.lacity.org/facing_homelessness to donate and learn about the many efforts I am involved with regarding homelessness.

Though there is no easy fix, I will continue to work with the community to help our homeless while also protecting the values and integrity of the West Valley.

As Senator Al Franken says, “You have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, but first you have to have the boots.”

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