LOS ANGELES — Harvey Franco has lived in a grey tent pitched in downtown Los Angeles for 11 years. Every morning, he wakes up at 5:30 to dismantle it and wait. Around 8:30 a.m., a group of outreach workers from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority will arrive, and ask Franco and everyone on the streets in his neighborhood how they can help him. He thinks it’s a crock.
A little over two years ago, Los Angeles committed $4.5 billion toward ending homelessness — the most money voters anywhere in the country have pledged toward the problem. At the last count, there were more than 52,000 homeless people in the county.
Measure HHH created a $1.2 billion city bond to build new housing, and the next year Measure H added a new sales tax to fund homeless services. The funds paid for case management, permanent housing units, temporary shelters, and 96 new outreach workers for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) who make regular visits to homeless encampments. Some of them, along with personnel from the Los Angeles Police Department and the Department of Sanitation, make up Homeless Outreach and Proactive Engagement (HOPE) teams.
Outreach workers are there to attempt to connect with homeless people and help them navigate the path to getting housing. Sanitation workers are tasked with disposing of anything that violates the municipal code, like urine bottles, a common practice in areas that lack accessible bathrooms. Police are there to provide security, but their presence can sometimes result in arrests — and those arrests have increased by 31 percent.
Although the county touts 9,635 people placed into permanent housing and 18,714 people entered temporary housing, Franco is upset that he and so many of his neighbors remain on the street.
“I've been waiting for... what, eight years, nine years? Nothing,” he says.
It’s difficult to know if Measure H’s efforts make a lasting impact; there is no record of whether people stay housed.
This segment originally aired December 6, 2018, on VICE News Tonight on HBO