On the day he was targeted with a recall drive sparked largely by the city’s homeless crisis, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday an expansion of the city’s street-cleanup efforts, enforcement of illegal dumping and hygiene services for people living on the streets.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to solving homelessness,” Garcetti said. “This humanitarian emergency demands strategies that are nimble, targeted and sensitive to the needs of our homeless neighbors and everyone who calls Los Angeles home.”
Under the program proposed by the mayor, the city will no longer respond on a complaint basis to problem areas. Instead, the city will deploy neighborhood-based cleaning and rapid engagement, or CARE, teams to provide public health services to homeless encampments and schedule regular cleanups in high-need areas, Garcetti said.
Each CARE team will be assigned to a specific location — at least one in each council district — to provide cleanup services and help sanitation workers “build stronger relationships with homeless Angelenos in desperate need,” the mayor said.
The teams will receive specialized mental health training and deliver public health resources, including daily trash collection and mobile restrooms to homeless communities.
The plan, which needs City Council approval, will increase the number of city sanitation teams from 20 to 30 and spend an additional $6.3 million on equipment and supplies. Garcetti said the plan will create 47 sanitation jobs and fund overtime pay. If approved, the program can go into effect this fall, Garcetti said.
Garcetti’s plan includes establishing mobile hygiene stations equipped with showers and restrooms, and developing a program to train and hire homeless people to support cleanup efforts in and around encampments — and they will be given a stipend for their work.
Illegal dumping in Los Angeles has been linked to more than just homelessness. Last week, 85 businesses in the downtown area were cited by county health inspectors for not having proper waste receptacles in violation of the county’s health code.
Garcetti said state and federal leaders need to help cities when it comes to homelessness.
“If people think cities are going to solve this on their own … then we will never win the war,” Garcetti said, adding that he spoke with Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, who is proposing a $13 billion federal bill to address homelessness.
The plan also includes establishment of four new sanitation-deployment stations — for a total of five — at Washington Yard, Harbor Yard, East Valley District, San Fernando Road Yard and Lopez Canyon Yard to reduce response and drive times for the CARE teams.
“Los Angeles has the infrastructure and services to handle waste the correct way, the dignified way,” said Enrique Zaldivar, general manager of Los Angeles Sanitation. “There are no excuses for illegal dumping.”
Earlier this month, Councilman Jose Huizar introduced a motion calling for additional resources to address illegal dumping in the city’s downtown area, including hiring more crews to increase cleanups.
The motion proposes that homeless and formerly homeless individuals be employed to provide trash and bulky-item cleanup services two days per week, five hours per day, through Chrysalis, a nonprofit employment services program that separately provides trash and street cleaning support to numerous business improvement districts.
Huizar is also proposing increased enforcement, fines targeting offenders and rewards for people who report illegal dumping. He also wants city departments to report on specific notification practices when reporting illegal dumping.
This year, LA Sanitation has responded to an average of 1,200 illegal dumping reports per month, according to Huizar’s office, which said most requests are generally handled within two weeks.
City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said Wednesday the council is expected next week to hear a more detailed break down of the recent homeless count, which showed a 16% rise in the city’s homeless population.
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