Though they stubbornly refuse to acknowledge it, the Los Angeles City Council has played a key role in L.A.’s tragic spike in homelessness. This human disaster is unfolding during one of L.A.’s healthiest high-employment periods and during L.A.’s lowest population growth in modern times — population growth of just 1.2% a year, according to State of California demographers.

With L.A.’s low unemployment, its plunging birth rates and slow population growth, a homeless crisis is the last thing we should be seeing. Yet we’ve seen an 11% spike in homeless in the past year alone.

Clearly, this is a government-fueled crisis, fanned by, and ignored for years by, the City Council itself.

L.A.’s manufactured crisis is thanks to the Council’s Wild West “planning,” which has allowed the ill-advised — and still unabated — destruction of thousands of low-rent L.A. housing units. City Hall is very busy gentrifying working-class communities, displacing residents to allow $3,000+ apartments.

City Hall also allows the destruction of crucial poverty housing on Skid Row — simple rooms with beds — to make way for hipsters, without any thought given to addressing the devastating human cost. Mayor Eric Garcetti conceded in September, in an admission in the Los Angeles Daily News, “a year ago we didn’t have a strategy.” But, better several years too late than never.

Facing withering criticism for its cozy relations with developers, whose luxury glass towers are creating much of L.A.’s new homelessness, the L.A. City Council finally placed Measure HHH on the ballot.

HHH goes partway to address the suffering. The Coalition to Preserve LA urges voters to approve this $1.2 billion bond measure, to do what we can, as residents, to undo the disaster our City Council continues, even now, to fuel.

Sadly, HHH lets City Hall use the power of eminent domain to buy and take away private property citywide — a radical solution, needed because City Hall let this tragedy take on massive proportions.

It’s a very tough situation. But it is crucial that every voter cast their YES vote on HHH, because HHH requires 2/3 approval. A typical homeowner will pay $40 to $60 a year in new taxes for 28 years.

This bond measure will be used to buy land and eventually build permanent housing and facilities for the homeless at unknown locations, and eventually build affordable housing for those on the edge of being homeless. It allows for the construction of temporary shelters, service facilities and showers.

HHH specifically prohibits any bond money be spent on supportive services for the homeless, or on operations, relying instead on L.A. County, whose job that is, to come through with that money.

If we haven’t convinced you yet of the great need for Measure HHH, perhaps these statistics will:

We know the Los Angeles City Council has allowed the destruction of 22,000 rent-stabilized units in L.A. since 2000. (Los Angeles Times, 2016)

We know the City Council has allowed the demolition and conversion of 3,115 rooms for homeless people living on Skid Row, as part of their reckless frenzy to gentrify Skid Row. (City Planning Data and Rev. Alice Callaghan’s Survey of Lost Single Room Occupancy housing)

We know the average rent on Skid Row is now about $1,650 a month. (Zillow, 2016)

We know City Hall has even wiped out the words “Skid Row” off of official city government maps of Los Angeles. (http://empowerla.org/city-map/)

Our new homeless population was created by thoughtless luxury housing overdevelopment and low-rent demolitions — and worse, by City Hall’s failure to have even a notion of a backup plan, even as thousands of new homeless appeared under freeway overpasses, behind bushes and in doorways.

In a rare admission of City Hall’s gross failure to think things through, City Councilman Jose Huizar stated at a hearing in 2016, “I’ve always wondered what’s the cumulative impact? … We should have an odometer that says, ‘Look, you’re taking off [the market] all these rent-stabilization units. Does the left arm in housing department, who is in charge of this, really know what we are doing over here?’”

The answer to Jose Huizar is NO, the left “arm” does not know what the right arm is doing at City Hall!

Our City Council is awash in campaign funds and lobbying wining and dining from land speculators and global billionaire developers. These speculators, in turn, are gifted with major exemptions from our land-use and zoning rules by the very City Council members who took their money.

The result? A get-rich-quick frenzy of luxury overbuilding. According to the Housing + Community Investment Department of L.A. (HCIDLA), City Hall’s wrongheaded moves have swamped L.A. with a luxury housing glut. The luxury vacancy rate is 15% — ghost condos, empty penthouses.

The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative on the ballot next March ends the backroom deals made between the world’s wealthiest developers and City Council members, who get rolled every time. The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative will make it harder for the City Council to undertake “spot zoning,” trampling on our protective land zoning, usually to enrich individual developers who have given them cash and gifts.

Please enthusiastically Vote YES on HHH. And please join us in March 2017, to pass the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative on the city ballot.

Join the Coalition to Preserve L.A. by clicking here right now to donate any amount you wish, and follow and cheer our efforts on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. You can also send us an email at neighborhoodintegrity@gmail.com for more information.

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