July 20, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

LAHSA Report Exposes Failures of Anti-Camping Ordinance, Allegedly Kept Secret Since November

City Controller and Council Members Speak Out Against Withheld Report 

LA City Controller Kenneth Meija posted comments on social media about an unreleased report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) that was kept secret and has recently come to light, as was reported by The LAist. This report highlights the ineffectiveness of the City of Los Angeles’ anti-camping ordinance in addressing homelessness.  

Meija outlined the issues that the report details in a thread on Twitter and concluded, “Criminalizing homelessness is not the way we’re going to solve homelessness; if anything, it just makes it worse. Also, the City sitting on these reports just creates more distrust of the City government.”

The anti-encampment law, Ordinance 41.18 (LAMC 41.18), has been highly touted as the solution to homeless camping in public places by several City Council members. 

City Council member Hugo Soto-Martinez said on social media, in response to the LAist article, “We *still* have not officially received this report, but here’s what we know: Encampments swept with 41.18 nearly always return. We spend A LOT of $$ on this ineffective criminalization of homelessness. People swept in 41.18 operations almost never receive shelter or housing.”

This report was ordered by the City Council nearly a year ago and has allegedly been finished since November, but it has not been released to the City Council and the public. Very few people have seen it, but a copy was provided to the LAist by a trusted source. 

The findings reveal shortcomings in housing unhoused individuals and preventing their return to encampments in designated 41.18 zones.

Criminalizing homelessness, as per the report, exacerbates the issue without providing a meaningful solution. Out of 1,856 unhoused individuals in 41.18 zones, only 0.1% were placed in permanent housing, and 7.7% found interim housing. The report suggests that using 41.18 sweeps for housing initiatives is ineffective.

Concerns arise regarding the prevention of encampment returns in 41.18 zones, as 81% of the 174 encampments subjected to 41.18 sweeps witnessed the return of individuals who were previously living there. Additionally, 77% reported repopulation from other encampments, questioning the ordinance’s efficacy in maintaining clear zones.

The report also points out various issues:

  • A significant majority (93.5% of unhoused individuals) were actively working with outreach workers for housing before the 41.18 ordinance was enacted.
  • Encampment sweeps can disrupt service pathways for unhoused individuals, leading to potential disconnection with service providers after displacement.
  • Distrust of service providers may develop among unhoused individuals, impacting their willingness to accept services after being forced to move.
  • Encampment sweeps may result in a loss of identification and documentation crucial for ongoing services and eventual housing.

The report emphasizes that LAMC 41.18, as currently written, lacks provisions for additional housing resources before or during enforcement operations. In 2023, there were 1,912 41.18-related arrests, marking a substantial 124% increase from 853 in 2022. The report underscores the need for a reevaluation of the ordinance’s effectiveness and a comprehensive approach to addressing the homelessness crisis.

According to the LAist, this report was not given to Nithya Raman, Los Angeles City Councilmember for the 4th District and head of the City Council’s housing and homelessness committee, until Wednesday, February 28, despite having been finished in November of 2023.

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