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Homeless people sleeping in Pershing Square in Downtown Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — With homelessness on the rise in Los Angeles and across California, Mayor Eric Garcetti and other officials have called on state leaders to allocate more money from the state budget surplus to fight the problem.

The state has an estimated $8.8 billion surplus this coming fiscal year, and Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed putting much of it into reserves while also dedicating $359 million for homeless programs. But Garcetti and some other leaders want at least $1.5 billion set aside.

“Los Angeles has put its local dollars on the line to pull people from the grips of homelessness, and now it’s time for Sacramento to do the same,” Garcetti said. “I appreciate Gov. Brown’s commitment to addressing this urgent moral and humanitarian crisis, but we need even more funding to shelter our homeless neighbors today. If the state comes through, we would have a clear path to housing for every unsheltered Angeleno.”

Garcetti called for the increased funding at a news conference at the Downtown Women’s Center on Tuesday, May 30. He was joined by Assembly members Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, Wendy Carrillo, D-Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis and Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar.

Garcetti traveled to Sacramento in April and was joined by mayors from California’s 10 other largest cities to advocate for AB 3171, a bill that would allocate $1.5 billion from the state surplus budget to combat homelessness.

The mayor’s office said that if the funding is approved, nearly 52,000 Angelenos would receive housing and services over a three-year period.

The number of homeless people in Los Angeles spiked in 2017 by 20 percent to over 34,000, according to the results of the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, although the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority recently said the numbers in the county were inflated by 2,746, and it is not yet clear how many of those were within the city of Los Angeles.

California’s homeless population was estimated at 134,278 in a 2017 statewide count, up 16 percent from 2015.

“On any given night in Los Angeles County, we have a staggering number of 55,000 homeless persons seeking refuge, and unfortunately Latinos and African-Americans make up about 75 percent of that population,” Carrillo said.

“While the challenge is daunting, we must step up to find solutions, much as the voters of Los Angeles did when they approved Measures H and HHH. In the Legislature, we need to build on that momentum and ensure our budget reflects the commitment of Los Angeles to address an issue that consistently affects our most vulnerable Californians.”

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