AIDS Healthcare Foundation have unveiled its newest Los Angeles area billboard advocacy campaign which puts the spotlight on the burgeoning homeless and housing crisis in Los Angeles. The new campaign, posted this week on over 30 billboards throughout greater Los Angeles (with 100 bus bench placements soon to follow), features two stark messages: ‘Homelessness Kills’ and ‘Gentrification Sucks.’
The first billboard features the headline ‘Homelessness Kills’ placed over a close-up image of the toe-tagged feet of an individual lying dead on a morgue table; the second includes the headline ‘Gentrification Sucks’ over an urban city view of Los Angeles. The only additional text on both of the billboards is the web address for ‘LAScandal.org’ (rendered in the style of the ubiquitous green Caltrans freeway signs posted throughout the state), a website where people can get information on the homeless crisis, learn about the sclerotic response from government and elected officials and find links to directly contact their L.A. City Council Member or L.A. County Supervisor to urge them to act more quickly and decisively to address the homeless and affordable housing crisis.
“For too many of our fellow Angelenos, homelessness has become a matter of life and death—our homeless death rate in Los Angeles is now nearly twice the homicide rate,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AHF. “Given that L.A. officials spent over $619 million on homeless services over the past year, this is a national disgrace. Despite those millions of dollars, homeless people are literally dying on our streets. These new billboards serve to remind the public both of some causes and consequences of homelessness—and to shame our public officials into meaningful and more timely action on the twin crises of homelessness and gentrification.”
According to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner records, 918 homeless people died in 2018. In 2017, there were 806 deaths among the homeless. The coroner’s office reported a total of 3,612 deaths of homeless people in L.A. County from 2014 to 2018—a 76% increase over those past five years (Kaiser Health News via US News & World Report, April 23, 2019).
Last week, the Los Angeles City Council passed a record $10.6 billion budget that includes $457 million earmarked for homeless programs. More than half of that funding will come from the Measure HHH bond, the well-intentioned 2016 L.A. City ballot measure authorizing $1.2 billion in bonds to pay for the construction of 10,000 units of housing for homeless people and that passed with 76% of the vote. Measure HHH funding has yet to house a single homeless individual.