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City Votes To Offer Shelter For Homeless In Public Buildings And Parking Lots

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With Los Angeles' homeless population estimated at 26,000 and growing, the City Council voted unanimously today to open up public buildings and parking lots to provide shelter.The Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 on Tuesday afternoon to declare a "shelter crisis," reports the L.A. Times. This vote would temporarily ease state and local health and safety codes to allow homeless individuals to take shelter in public buildings. The vote would also allow people who live in a car or van to park overnight in lots owned by the city or nonprofit organizations.

Last year, Los Angeles' ban on living out of one's car was struck down by a federal court.

Even with today's vote, the councilmembers acknowledged that there was a lot more to be done on homelessness. In January, the City Council will be presented with the Homelessness Strategic Plan.

"While we're building the infrastructure, we're finding ways to address homelessness," said Councilman Jose Huizar, who co-chairs the Homelessness and Poverty Committee. "We have a long way to go."

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Tuesday's vote was made ahead of the January presentation of the Homelessness Strategic Plan partly because advocates wanted action ahead of what's predicted to be a wet winter and spring because of El Niño. Today's vote also allows the council to extend the shelter crisis beyond the winter months—as the Municipal Code typically allows for—and into the spring.

The council also asked that the penalties on a controversial ordinance that made it easier to seize property left on city sidewalks be scaled back and asked for a study to look into more storage space for the homeless.

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