LA Politicians Are Working With Trump On Homelessness

Homeless encampments in Koreatown, photographed on June 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (James Bernal/KPCC)

Several top Southern California elected officials are in the process of brokering a deal with the Trump Administration on homelessness.

There's a lot that is not yet known. But a letter sent to President Trump and Housing Secretary Ben Carson talks about increased federal support to expand the region's homeless shelter system.

Though Los Angeles County is home to nearly 60,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night, the county's shelter system has space for fewer than 16,000 people.

Speaking on KPCC's AirTalk program on Thursday, Andy Bales, who heads the Union Rescue Mission in Skid Row, said local officials were in direct communication with the secretary of the Federal Housing and Urban Development department, Ben Carson.

"They had a discussion yesterday [Wednesday] with Ben Carson, and I guess they've received an offer from the White House of federal assistance that asked the city and the county for a humble letter of request that that they need help," said Bales. "I believe that letter is going to be on its way from the Mayor of Los Angeles, [and] County supervisor Kathryn Barger and the county supervisors, requesting White House help."

Bales said details are still "sketchy," but that he thinks the federal government will make federal land available for the construction of homeless shelters, and ask local non-profits to operate them.

On Friday morning, the Los Angeles Times published a letter sent to President Trump and Secretary Carson from Mayor Garcetti. The letter is dated January 9, 2020:

"I appreciate the federal resources that Secretary Carson offered yesterday, including support for service and housing programs; potential federal land for housing and shelter development; and leveraged resources needed to address critical public health needs."

Both Supervisor Barger and Mayor Garcetti tweeted on Wednesday evening about the partnership.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson Carson also tweeted on Wednesday.

Speaking on AirTalk, Andy Bales said he is "thrilled" that the situation on the streets is finally being addressed as an "all hands on deck situation."

"I know we need much more affordable housing, but what people who suffer the devastation of homelessness each and every night need right now is triage, like shelter, they need a roof of some kind over their head," Bales said on AirTalk.