Yesterday, CD4 Councilmember David Ryu spoke to Wilshire Rotary members about his three-pronged plan to address homelessness in the city.
“It’s taken decades to create this problem and it won’t be solved overnight,” explained Ryu, adding, “We’ve always had homeless in the city, but sadly it took getting to this crisis before people really started to notice.”
Ryu’s plan calls for building more housing, but he firmly rejects losing local control and strongly opposes SB50, a bill sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) that would eliminate R-1 zoning in most of the state. In addition, Ryu said he wants to see more incentives to develop affordable housing, because the 2019 homeless count found that some 60% of homeless were homeless for the first time after losing housing. He also wants more protections in place to preserve existing affordable housing, and a vacancy tax on empty apartments, to encourage more rentals.
“This homeless population is different [than in the past],” said Ryu. “We have an affordable housing crisis.”
Finally, Ryu called for reforms to the state’s mental health laws, which now make it very hard to help someone who doesn’t want services. Ryu says this will only affect 1% of the chronically homeless, but it’s the segment that is the most expensive, and often most difficult, to help.
Following the talk, CD 4 Communications Deputy Mark Pampanin provided the details below of the plan. Recently, Ryu’s office posted the entire plan on his website at the following link: http://davidryu.lacity.org/homeless_plan
Prong 1 – Housing Existing Homeless
We need to get those suffering from homelessness off the street and connected to resources. That’s why, in Council District Four, we have 5 projects either open, under construction, or in the pipeline, with more on the way. They include:
– LGBT Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus (225 units/beds)
– Gardner Women’s Bridge Housing Center (30 beds)
– AVIVA Family & Children Services Bridge Housing Center (42 units)
– Burbank Boulevard Senior Housing (55 units)
– A Bridge Home on Riverside Drive (75 beds)
You can learn more about each project at http://davidryu.lacity.org/homeless_plan
Prong 2 – Preventing Homelessness – Protect Affordable Housing and the Middle Class
We can’t just focus on those currently experiencing homelessness, but the hundreds of thousands in Los Angeles living on the brink. That’s why Councilmember Ryu is focused on legislation that would target our affordable housing crisis and protect vulnerable renters.
He has done this through:
Ellis Act Reform Motion – Seeks to change how the Ellis Act is enforced in Los Angeles. It seeks an increase in tenant relocation assistance & to make it harder to evict under Ellis, and it explores options for The City to expand protections for rent-stabilized units.
Middle-Class Housing Motion – Over the past 4 years, Los Angeles has built over 73,000 units of high-income housing and 430 units for the middle class – one-half of 1 percent of all new homes built. At present, the City Planning Department has no clear definition for “middle income” in Los Angeles. Councilmember Ryu’s motion would identify the middle-income population in Los Angeles and create incentives to build for this population.
Resolution to expand the California Renter’s Tax Credit to renters spending more than 1/3rd of their income on housing.
Councilmember Ryu also supports a Right to Counsel fund to provide low-income people facing eviction with quality representation.
Prong 3 – Critical Services & Mental Health Law Reform
Councilmember Ryu worked in mental health for 15 years before coming to City Hall, and has seen how mental health, addiction and homelessness intersect firsthand.
That’s why he co-introduced Resolution calling for Grave Disability Reform, a State law which determines when a first responder can help someone suffering from a grave mental illness. This passed City Council in 2018. The County Board of Supervisors passed a similar Resolution. You can learn more about this issue here: https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-gravely-disabled-20180130-story.html
Councilmember Ryu also co-introduced a Resolution to expand conservatorship for those extreme cases of folks unable to care for themselves, which passed this month. San Francisco recently did the same.
Finally, Councilmember Ryu is working to make sure that every homeless housing project he builds in District Four includes access to mental healthcare. Homelessness can be a traumatizing experience, and ensuring access to good counseling and treatment is just as important as access to housing.
This story was updated to include a link to Councilmember Ryu’s plan.