Address the Unhoused Crisis

We have a humanitarian crisis in L.A. Unhoused individuals are living in dangerous, unhealthy, and inhumane settings. I’ve worked on this firsthand at LAUSD as we worked with communities and schools with homeless encampments to make sure students have safe passages to get to schools every day.

The problem is made worse by some of our current representatives in City Hall who have polarized this debate to the point they’ve become unable to take the necessary actions to solve this crisis.

Here’s my view: Many people experiencing homelessness are suffering and need a place to stay and it is unsafe, unhealthy and disadvantageous for neighborhoods to be surrounded by encampments. I care about our families, communities, and our fellow human beings — and we need to act swiftly to deal with this crisis.

In the short term, we must deal with encampments now. We can all agree that our kids should be able to get to and from school and access public parks and beaches without needing the cross unhealthy and unsafe encampments. We need to enforce the local ordinance for banning camping at our schools and parks. We need to create and support localized plans and organizations within each community, like the Pacific Palisades Homeless Task Force and the Friends of Venice Beach Boardwalk, so each community can establish programs that work best for their areas and have buy-in from residents. We must also tackle mental health and addiction issues with coordinated plans between the city, county, and federal governments — including law enforcement — so resources are used efficiently and effectively.

Eliminating homelessness in the long term will require a laser focus on getting the unhoused into permanent housing — that means building more units now. Building public facilities requires experience and determination to cut red tape — that’s what I’ve done managing LAUSD’s 10,000 properties and being part of the campaign to pass Measure RR to provide $7 billion for school facilities.  

We need to prevent homelessness by allocating resources and providing opportunities to learn employable skills. We have resources from the federal and state government to address our housing shortage. Since voters passed Measure HHH in 2017, the city generates hundreds of millions of dollars a year to build housing, but too many projects are stuck in City Hall’s bureaucratic approvals process. We must get that money out the door ASAP and cut regulatory hurdles delaying the construction of much-needed housing. We need to incentivize builders to finish projects early like we did with the 10 freeway after the Northridge earthquake.
Let’s take action: Here are my six key solutions – many of which will be done concurrently. The most critical component to any plan is insisting on deadlines, dates, deliverables, and transparency. We have significant resources. Los Angeles needs a leader to oversee that these monies are spent with urgency, accountability and efficiently. That is me. I have a proven record.
  1. First, On day one, I will demand we treat this homelessness crisis as the emergency that it is so that we will cut through the bureaucracy and eliminate a mountain of unproductive regulation for urgent action.

    We did some amazing things at the school district during the pandemic because it was an emergency by building teams and acting together:
    • 83% of our LAUSD kids live in poverty, so we ramped up our food service to serve 140 million meals to students and their families.
    • We provided COVID testing for 100,000 students and faculty a day.
    • We transitioned to a laptop or tablet for every student overnight.

  1. We will clear encampments and keep them from returning.
    • It is unacceptable for encampments to line our streets, let alone our schools, parks and beaches.
    • I will enforce the “No camping” signage in communities to make it clear that encampments are not permitted. 
    • Let’s get people help before they are so traumatized they cannot easily recover. Those experiencing homelessness go to temporary shelters. All people will be given a menu of choices, but staying in an encampment is not an option.
    • We will bring solutions that tackle the many aspects of homelessness, which includes the chronically homeless, mentally ill, situational homelessness, and subsets of the population that can be helped with quicker and easier interventions than permanent supportive housing.
    • We’ll partner with community organizations to assist and get buy-in on how best to clear encampments.
    • People from other states and areas are coming because we allow encampments – we must disincentivize folks from coming.
  1. We will provide temporary shelters with wrap-around services. 
    • The city is obligated to provide shelter not homes – and we need to do both
    • Picture safe temporary shelters with services offered, including mental health, medical treatment, social workers, career skills, and dedicated security. 
    • We will increase the number of temporary shelters. We have the land. We will replicate other innovative models that have proven track records to address all levels of needs for our unhoused population. 
    • We will provide housing vouchers for those willing to enter rehabilitation and job training.

  1. We will prevent more people from becoming homeless. For every 207 people we get out of homelessness, 227 more become homeless each day. By failing to bring our own agencies together, the city is inadvertently adding to the problem, not solving the problem. For example:
    • More elderly are falling into homelessness because frail room and board facilities are condemned rather than fixed. I have consulted with Cedars Marina CMO. We can fix this.
    • Existing facilities for the severely mentally ill are dwindling and we need more treatment options for this ever-growing population. The county and city must collaborate to rectify this problem. I’m going to build bridges across the bureaucratic divides, just as I have done.
    • Studies confirm, having career skills will get folks out of poverty. Let’s help people going through these programs by coordinating adult education, providing free daycare and connecting with mass transportation.
    • People need connection, a place and a purpose. Studies confirm, having career skills will get folks out of poverty. We have great examples, around the world and locally. 
    • Record number of working people are becoming homeless. These are people we can help transition out of homelessness.
  1. We will expedite the building process for housing.
    • Los Angeles needs thousands of units for low to moderate income residents, and it’s not happening or certainly not at an acceptable pace.  
    • I reached out to experts to understand the problem and there is a lot of low hanging fruit to act upon:
      • Simplify the finance model for housing projects with clearly designated expedited timelines eliminating the bureaucratic hurdles. Monitor timelines, outcomes, and deliverables with transparency and accountability.
      • Improve Los Angeles Building and Safety permitting process to be timely, consistent, and predictable.
      • Pay city vendors quickly – waiting to be paid for 6 months is unacceptable. 
      • Build a community relations team to lead housing efforts and identify best locations. 
    • I support addressing the housing crisis by building homes as fast as possible, and at fair cost, while making the city beautiful and livable.
    • We have the money and we are not short on ideas.  We need leadership to work together. That is what I do.
  1. We will build a powerful triad: health care, social workers and law enforcement.  
    • We will train and deploy more social workers, have more health services available, and more law enforcement on the street. 
    • I want to see those trained in public safety to deal with those individuals and allow them to focus where they are the real experts. Our police officers need to be able to focus on crime.
    • We will make sure that social issues are dealt with by those trained in social work and know-how and where to direct people for the services – mental health and treatments as well as healthcare they need. 
    • Having the right level of social workers and law enforcement as part of our team is critical. 
    • Currently, 80% of our law enforcement resources are going to treat frequent flyers. We cannot get ahead using our dollars and talent in that way.
Prioritize Safety
Crime is tearing at the heart of our city and altering our lives. It’s made worse when criminals are released back into the community immediately after booking. We must stop turning criminals back onto our streets without full consideration of the justice system and mental health.
LA has one of the lowest per capita police officer ratios of any major US city. The City of Los Angeles has 24.6 officers per 10,000 residents, while New York City has 42.3 officers per 10,000 residents.

It’s time we prioritize safety: We need officers patrolling the streets and ensuring overall community safety, rather than sitting behind desks or dealing with issues best served by social workers or other mental health professionals. We can civilianize office jobs and put hundreds of officers on the street. We must enhance law enforcement’s tools and technology.

Protect the Environment
Addressing climate change and the threats it poses to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and our community’s natural resources must be a top priority for the City Council.
In September 2021, the City Council approved a new goal for LA to achieve 100% clean energy by 2035, a critical goal to drastically cut the carbon pollution that causes climate change. But setting a goal is only the first step. We must aggressively deploy solar energy projects that deliver clean, renewable power to our homes and businesses — all while putting Angelenos to work in good-paying, union jobs installing and maintaining these projects. 

I’ve taken this on at LAUSD, where thirty schools are undertaking a solar pilot project to help the district reach its clean energy goal. We can and must do more across the City to combat the existential threat of climate change.

Our coastline is a treasure that we must preserve for generations to come. In order to do that, we’ve got to make sure the Santa Monica Bay is clean, not polluted by storm water, trash, and microplastics. As your councilmember, I’ll hold Hyperion Plant accountable for abiding by environmental regulations and promptly notifying the public when it encounters problems.

Reduce Traffic and Grow Smarter
On a daily basis, Angelenos deal with traffic and gridlock that diminish our quality of life and pollute the air we breathe. As we build much-needed new housing, we must also rethink how our City can continue to improve by streamlining the permit process with community builders in a smarter, more sustainable way that boosts access to public transit and accommodates safe spaces to walk and bike.
To achieve this, we need to do what communities like Playa Vista have done well — implement policies that integrate transportation and land use decisions by encouraging more compact, mixed-use development within existing urban areas and discouraging dispersed, car-dependent development at the urban fringe.
Protecting our Hillside Communities
We need to enhance our fire preparedness strategies to make sure that our communities within the hillside-wildlife interface zones are safe and know what to do in the event of an emergency. I have seen first-hand the dangers of fire in our hillside communities. I was evacuated during the Getty Fire myself. It is critical that we protect our residents within these environmentally challenged hillside communities.

There can be no expansion of any kind in our hillside-wildlife interface zones, most of the area north of Sunset Boulevard, designated by the state of California as VERY HIGH FIRE SEVERITY ZONES (VHFSZ) until we address our emergency protocols. We are not adequately prepared and adding more development, congestion and traffic endangers these communities and all who use them.. For example, I am not in favor of the expansion of Mount Saint Mary’s University which produces about 2000 car trips up and down a 2.6 mile substandard road in a VHFSZ. During the Getty Fire, just three years ago, students from Mount Saint Mary’s evacuated on foot. To date, we have not adequately addressed this situation.

We must increase the number of firefighters, fund logistics to update our fire department’s equipment, routinely plan evacuation drills, and strengthen our emergency communications infrastructure. We had more fire fighters in the 1970s than we do now. LA has the lowest per capita number of firefighters of any urban city in the nation. This is unacceptable. On day one, I will introduce a motion to increase the number of fire fighters and I will assign a field deputy, preferably a retired fire fighter, to the Brentwood Palisades community. This will be my version for 911 regarding fire/life safety issues.

Supporting Local Businesses

Opening and operating a successful business in the City of Los Angeles has become more expensive, more time consuming, and downright miserable for many entrepreneurs. Employees are harder to find because they can’t afford to live in the City in which they work and have a tough time commuting to work. 

Crime and homelessness make going to work every day a dicey proposition, and employers feel as if they’ve been abandoned by City Hall and their council office. When given a choice, employers often pick surrounding communities or even other states to locate new businesses or expansion of existing operations. It’s time for action!

I don’t just talk about supporting businesses, I listen and I have a plan. I was the first CD11 candidate to have a Business Advisory Committee providing insight and suggestions from employers on how to support businesses throughout the District.

Businesses in Los Angeles and CD11 continue to be pressured from all sides with higher rents, wages, healthcare costs, and taxes and fees. Homelessness and crime impact local business disproportionately in CD11, and business owners aren’t receiving their fair share of services.

I will help business in CD11 standup by addressing these issues right out of the gate through these initiatives and solutions:

  • I will ensure LAPD and social workers work together to address homeless encampments within 24 hours of reporting by an affected business.
  • I will clean up the streets by ensuring parking meter revenue is spent in the community in which it is collected. Meter revenue must always be spent during the same fiscal year as collected to clean sidewalks and beautify the streetscape (or held in reserve for a specific project), so it doesn’t get rolled into the General Fund.
  • We need to get the City of Los Angeles off its addiction to the business tax. We need to finally reduce business tax rates to make them more competitive with our neighboring cities, make the tax rates progressive, and reduce the number of categories.
  • Small businesses with revenue under $500,000 should be exempt from paying City business tax, up from today’s paltry $100,000 Small Business Exemption
  • We need to be competitive with mandated wages and benefits, and help encourage businesses to locate and stay in the City. 
  • Let’s get builders to create thousands of workforce housing units on transit corridors. We’ll allow additional density along the major arteries of Los Angeles, and give employees who live and commute along these boulevards by transit a break from paying full fare.
  • Permit fees will be halved for workforce and low-income housing, reducing the cost of construction, and getting more units built faster.
  • We’ll make the permitting process faster, more efficient and provide a money-back guarantee that ensures small businesses aren’t stuck in the permit process abyss. Our CD11 permitting office on Sawtelle will be a one-stop “small business permitting center” with personnel dedicated to shepherding business owners through the process.
  • Water, sewer and electric connection fees will be reduced for businesses that create jobs or builders  of workforce and low-income housing in our District. No longer will it be tolerated that businesses must wait months for water and power connections with DWP. When deadlines are missed, fees will be waived.

Champion for Women

I will be the champion we need for women in Los Angeles. As the only mother running in this race, I know how crucial it was that I had the choice to decide whether and when to start a family. Roe v. Wade has saved countless lives and allowed women the freedom to pursue their dreams.

I stand with Planned Parenthood in the fight for reproductive justice. I’m proud to be endorsed by Fund Her and National Women’s Political Caucus, organizations elevating women to positions of power.

“Fund Heris proud to endorse Allison Holdorff Polhill for LA City Council. A dedicated public servant, Allison has been a champion for our cornerstone values – women’s equality, social justice, reproductive freedom and climate responsibility,” said Valerie McGinty, Founder and President of Fund Her.

“Allison is the champion we need in City Hall and the best candidate in this race to represent women’s interests,” said Tori Chica, NWPC- LA Westside’s Director of Political Action. “We’ve seen the tenacity, creativity, and bold leadership that women bring to elected office. If elected, Allison would be the 4th woman on the City Council out of 15 members.” 

While the Supreme Court fails us, I will continue to stand up for all women. Only three out of 15 on our city council are women. That’s why we need my voice. On day one, I will ensure LA is a sanctuary city for women to have safe refuge.

And – we must do more to serve women in our city. The Downtown Women’s Center serves, empowers, and houses women experiencing homelessness with a 99% housing retention rate! The center wants to expand its successful program, but the City’s mountains of bureaucracy are delaying these projects. Help me get elected to streamline the expansion of these exceptional organizations.