By John Hugh DeMastri
The City of Los Angeles utilized less than 6% of emergency housing vouchers provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to house the homeless, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
Only 196 of the 3,365 emergency housing vouchers used to subsidize housing for homeless people have been leased to applicants, according to the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, the death rate amongst homeless people has skyrocketed to five deaths per day in 2022, up nearly threefold from the 1.7 per day in 2014 and up from 3.5 per day in 2019.
Yolanda Robins, a 50-year-old woman who has been homeless for more than 30 years, told the LA Times that the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) did not respond to her emails or calls for months after she was approved for a voucher in January 2022.
HACLA disputes Robins’ claims, stating that they assisted her on Feb. 16, answering her questions about a “request for tenancy approval” form, and that a nonprofit filled out a form on her behalf on June 4, according to the LA Times.
Robins claims that the agency never answered her questions, and that she received no assistance until she reached out to the Kingdom Warriors Foundation, the LA Times reported. The Kingdom Warriors Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3), that seeks to “rehabilitate our youth’s families by housing, promoting new critical thinking and economic freedom,” according to their website.
Jahmean Magpantay, the leasing agent at the building where Robins applied to live, has had similar situations with other applicants, according to the LA Times. She and a homeless man she’s been assisting “haven’t received any response, and he replied in March,” she told the outlet.
The vouchers represent almost $80 million in housing subsidies, according to the LA Times.
Homeless people in LA are at significant risk of violence. Homeless people were the victims in 90 of 397 (22.6%) homicides in 2021, according to the Associated Press. In 27 (7.3%) of the killings, homeless people were both the perpetrator and victim.
Jose Luis Camargo, who lives in a tent under a freeway ramp, keeps a pump action air-rifle for rats, and a pair of machetes for human assailants, according to the LA Times.
“People say, ‘Joe, you’re an angry old man.’,” he told the outlet, “And I say, ‘Look at where I’m at. You’d be angry, too.’”