Culver City Edition Lead Story West Edition

Waters proposes legislation to end homelessness

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti said he plans to lead a coalition of mayors calling on Congress to pass the Ending Homelessness Act.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, would direct more than $13 billion to support the work of cities on the front lines of the homelessness crisis, deliver vital services to homeless residents and bring the unsheltered indoors, according to a statement from Garcetti’s office.

“Cities are fighting hard every day to turn the tide on this humanitarian crisis, and Washington has to match our urgency, our commitment, and the investment we’re making to confront it,” Garcetti said. “Homelessness is a national emergency that requires federal action, and we need Congress to be part of the solution and supply resources that can bring housing, health care, and hope to Americans suffering on our streets.”

Other mayors supporting the effort include Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu, Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Waters’ proposal would create new affordable housing to support people experiencing homelessness. Specifically, the bill provides $5 billion over five years to support 85,000 new permanent housing units. It directs $2.5 billion over five years to new Special Purpose Section 8 housing choice vouchers, which would give preference to people experiencing homelessness and those most at-risk of becoming homeless. And it would add $1 billion to the National Housing Trust Fund, which is expected to create 25,000 new units for extremely low-income households.

Waters recently conducted a community forum on housing issues in Inglewood.

“We cannot have vacant units when people are sleeping on the ground,” Waters told the audience at the forum.

In the coming months, Garcetti will lead the coalition to rally support for the legislation in Washington, D.C.; increase the number of cosponsors representing cities; and testify in favor of the measure before the House of Representatives. Garcetti has proposed a U.S. Conference of Mayors resolution endorsing the legislation and calling for its immediate passage.

In addition to the Ending Homelessness Act, Garcetti and his colleagues will push for action on two other pieces of legislation: the Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing Act sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Ted Lieu, which would establish a new $750 million grant program to provide homeless services; and the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Suzan DelBene, which would increase the housing credit allocation by 50 percent and boost affordable housing production by an estimated 450,000 homes over the next decade.