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L.A. City Council Backs $8.76 Billion Budget With Increased Spending On Homelessness

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Mayor Garcetti speaking with a homeless vet (Photo by Vanessa via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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L.A.'s newly approved budget for the upcoming year includes dramatic increases to housing and services to address homelessness. Mayor Eric Garcetti's proposed $8.76 budget was unanimously approved by the L.A. City Council on Thursday with only a few minor tweaks made to the fiscal plan, according to the L.A. Times. And while the overall budget is only a 2% increase from last year and doesn't change much to most government programs, the approval marks a major shift in funding to address the city's growing homeless population. The budget includes $138 million directed towards providing services and 600 units of housing for the homeless, a roughly fourfold increase over the $34 million spent last year.

However, only a portion of that money—$71 million—is readily available; the remaining funds will be generated from developing or selling city property, as well as passing a tax aimed at developers, according to Garcetti.

The huge increase in spending on housing and services for the homeless is largely in response to a significant rise in homelessness, which according to a recent count grew by 11 percent over the last year. The outlined plan is also particularly notable as it will significantly scale up the “housing first” approach, a strategy that prioritizes getting people into permanent housing as quickly as possible and then addressing voluntary supportive services as needed.

And while the increased spending on fighting homelessness is significant, the $138 million allocation is only a portion of the $2 billion approved this by the mayor and council to house the homeless. Nonetheless, the mayor says the budget will be a "critical step to solving this [homelessness] crisis."

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A formal budget resolution will return to the council next week for a procedural vote, before being signed by Garcetti.