LA City Council approves redirecting $88.8 million of LAPD funds to address homelessness and poverty

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Homeless encampments are seen near LA City Hall. On March 2, 2021, LA City Council voted to approve a detailed plan allocating $88.8 million of LAPD’s budget toward homeless prevention and services, policing alternatives, and council districts experiencing the highest rates of poverty and unemployment. Photo by Amy Ta/KCRW.

Thirty years ago today, Rodney King was beaten by law enforcement officers in Los Angeles, and now decades later, the city is still seeing police violence against people of color. 

However, following the George Floyd protests in 2020, LA City Hall announced plans to pull $150 million from the LAPD’s budget. Since December, LA City Council has been debating where $88.8 million of that money would be reallocated.   

On Tuesday, the council voted to approve a detailed plan allocating that nearly $90 million to support communities of color. The council’s action overrides Mayor Eric Garcetti’s earlier veto, and provides greater detail on how the money will be spent.

Under the plan, $14 million would go toward policing alternatives, $18 million toward homeless prevention and services (including eviction defense services, jobs and outreach workers), and $32 million toward council districts experiencing the highest rates of poverty and unemployment.

“We are trying to focus resources in areas that have been consistently neglected over the years,” says City Councilman Curren Price, who voted for the override. According to the plan, $6 million would go toward a universal basic income pilot program in his district, which includes parts of downtown and South LA.

"My focus is on trying to uproot the system of discrimination and make sure that my district has resources it needs to bring about the changes we want to see,” he says. “So proposals like the guaranteed basic income [and] creating unarmed crisis response teams are ways of doing that."

Under the plan, 500 households of single parents in Price’s district would receive $1,000 a month for 12 months.

Tuesday’s vote was 11-4. Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, who represents Reseda, Tarzana, and other parts of the San Fernando Valley, was among the lone dissenters.

Blumenfield likes the initiatives and agrees funding should go toward disadvantaged districts, but doesn’t think now is the time.

“Right now, we’re borrowing to keep city functions going,” says Blumenfield. “We’re making deep cuts in city services. To look at our employees and constituents and keep asking them to make sacrifices, and then start spending all this money on new programs, it’s not financially responsible.”

Mayor Garcetti has indicated that he supports the new version of the proposal. A report on the remaining $56 million is expected by March 5.

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