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Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva slammed local leadership over the city’s massive homeless crisis Wednesday and urged them to declare a local state of emergency.
“This is a crisis. We need to take it seriously,” Villanueva said during a press conference, defending his effort to clear out homeless encampments that have become essentially permanent in Venice Beach.
Villanueva identified Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles City Council, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors as “architects of failure” and argued that their inaction to address the homeless crisis has forced him to step in.
“These are existential threats to the lives and livelihoods of L.A. County residents, and all I get from our architects is indifference because it’s not part of their agenda,” the sheriff added. “It’s not part of their woke rationale that we need to leave law enforcement out of the homeless problem.”
Villanueva suggested that taxpayer money is being wasted when it is funneled to nonprofit organizations that spend the money without the proper levels of transparency.
“I guarantee you the more money that gets thrown at the homelessness, the more of these mystery fly-by-night operations are going to start appearing,” he said. “We have no idea who they are, what they are, or where the money goes.”
"It’s a national disgrace,” Villanueva added. “We are the wealthiest nation in the planet, and we have such an enormous problem with homelessness. And it’s a local tragedy.”
The sheriff posted a letter he wrote to the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors asking them to declare a state of emergency.
“Since taking office, I have watched the state, county, and local government fail to address the homelessness crisis affecting the residents of Los Angeles County,” Villanueva wrote. “Despite spending in excess of $6.5 billion over the last ten years to address the issue, and the creation and efforts of the Los Angeles Services Authority (LAHSA), nothing has changed. Residents and business owners should not be subjected to walking around piles of trash and human feces in their neighborhoods, businesses, parks, and communities.”
Villanueva continued, “Venice Beach, Olvera Street, and Hollywood are currently under siege. The homeless situation and lawlessness citizens are experiencing is keeping tourists from coming to Los Angeles County. Venice was once the number two tourist destination in Southern California, second only to Disneyland. The economic hardships our local business owners and residents are facing is unacceptable.”
Villanueva has stated that his goal is to clear the Venice Beach boardwalk, which houses hundreds of homeless people living in tents, by the Fourth of July holiday. He has been met with opposition from several local Democrats, including City Councilman Mike Bonin, who has said he plans to address the issue without the help of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Villanueva has referred to Bonin’s plan as a “too little, too late PR campaign devoid of substance.”
Before the coronavirus pandemic, it was estimated that at least 66,000 people, roughly the size of Youngstown, Ohio, were homeless in Los Angeles County. That number is believed to be much higher as a result of the job losses and lockdown measures that occurred over the past year.
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Original Author: Andrew Mark Miller