The Los Angeles City Council this week voted to examine how LA leaders would go about establishing a Right to Housing, as outlined in a motion authored by Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas. If it paved a way for other cities across the country to take comparable actions, it would not be the first time.
The move is part of an effort by the council to continue to push forward a framework that prioritizes preventing and ending homelessness, according to a press release from the City of Los Angeles.
The Right to Housing motion lays out updated facts about the dangers of losing one's home and argues for more preventative and healing efforts in light of the global pandemic.
"The most recent data from the County of Los Angeles' Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner shows that from January 1, 2020 to December 1, 2020, there were 1,248 known fatalities among people experiencing homelessness, a 32% increase from the previous year," read the motion. "While the deleterious effects of living on the streets include premature aging and untimely death, research shows that housing is a health intervention which creates a foundation for recovery and reintegration."
Now that the motion has been adopted, the city along with community stakeholders will craft recommendations to "envision, develop, and implement a legislative, budgetary, and policy framework that would require the government to provide a robust and responsive spectrum of solutions to prevent and address homelessness," according to the press release.
“I applaud my fellow Councilmembers for voting to invest in reimagining a pathway to solving our homelessness crisis at a broader and more impactful scale. A Right to Housing means creating a housing safety net that obligates the government to not only aid Angelenos off the streets and into interim and permanent housing, but also prevent homelessness in the first place,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Just like our rights to clean air, our right to vote, and our right to receive an education—it should be mandatory for LA City to provide a Right to Housing to its residents.”
Co-author of the bill, Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell added that "the status quo on our approach to keeping people housed no longer works as is evidenced by our homelessness and affordability crisis."
He continued, "We need to not only drastically increase our housing stock, but align our housing efforts with our legislative priorities. [The motion] takes an important step forward and will provide this Council with tools to improve housing for all Angelenos."
A study last summer indicated that, following the Great Recession, in 2008, California leaders led the way, creating policies to encourage mortgage modifications and the maintenance of foreclosed homes to prevent neighborhood blight and the inevitable damage it does to home prices in the surrounding area. Researchers have used that evidence  to support the local and federal use of foreclosure moratoria and other CARES Act provisions.