I could give you a hundred reasons homelessness has become L.A. County’s most vexing challenge, from the gargantuan income gap to housing costs to the scourge of drugs and mental illness, but the biggest impediment to solving it may be this:
Nobody is in charge.
I didn’t need to research and write a three-part series on homelessness in Hollywood to know that, but my experience over the last few weeks sealed the deal, raising lots of questions about strategy and leadership.
It’s not that there aren’t well-intentioned leaders focused on the problem. Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, to name just two, are deeply involved in trying to find solutions. And behind the scenes, lots of dedicated people at multiple agencies are doing noble service every day, strategizing, coordinating and delivering services that have helped thousands of people.
But encampments continue to multiply despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on housing and services, tension is rising between those favoring sweeps and those screaming for more services, and there is no single person or government authority to answer for any of it.