The homeless crisis in Los Angeles County has spilled over onto buses, trains, at bus shelters and transit stations, resulting in encampments near mass transit hubs that have caused problems and scared away potential riders from taking mass transit, the county reported. Because of the growing, mobile homeless population using the rails and buses as moving shelters, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday, Oct. 18 to create a partnership with LA County Metro to address the problem by combining the county’s homeless outreach teams with efforts by Metro. One of the main issues occurs at the end of bus and rail lines where homeless people exit at 1 a.m. when the buses or trains park for custodial service until they resume service hours later. These unhoused individuals have no place to go since most shelters are closed at that time of night, said Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn, whose motion was approved by a 5-0 vote. “We have many unhoused people riding on our LA Metro bus and rail system and a number are getting kicked off the trains at 1 a.m. at the end of the lines,” Hahn said. End of the line cities are complaining about a disproportionate number of homeless people congregating near bus and rail lines in the early morning hours, including Long Beach, Azusa, Santa Monica and in Downtown Los Angeles and North Hollywood, Hahn noted. The 1st Street Blue Line Station in Long Beach for the Metro Blue Line, pictured February 21, 2018. Photo by Brittany Murray, Press Telegram/SCNGThe Long Beach City Council wrote a letter to LA Metro, asking for a change in the agency’s policy that requires passengers to deboard from the A Line (Blue) train when the last train arrives at the Downtown Long Beach station at 1:03 a.m., Hahn said. The city reported the Metro policy has added to the city’s overall unhoused population and overburdens Long Beach’s homeless service resources. Hahn said she will introduce a motion at the next LA Metro Board meeting to re-evaluate the end-of-the-line policy. All members of the Board of Supervisors are also members of the Metro board. Hahn is looking for ideas and policy changes in a report back to the Board of Supervisors in three months from the county’s chief executive officer, the county’s Homeless Initiative staff and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). The county is considering setting up “navigation hubs” at the end of several train and bus lines to help unhoused people exiting a train or bus to find shelter and services at night, instead of building encampments in neighborhoods. Another approach would be to sign up exiting homeless passengers with winter shelter bed sites, according to the motion. Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger said problems have been reported with homeless encampments on vacant property near the L Line (Gold), which runs from East Los Angeles to Pasadena and along the San Gabriel Valley foothills, with Azusa as the eastern terminus. There were two fires, apparently caused by homeless individuals or from encampments, near the L (Gold) Line, she said. “We have to recognize Metro is shouldering a disproportionate burden as the homeless crisis is spilling over into our transit system,” Barger said. LA Metro has been trying to address homelessness but the supervisors said it is not enough. Also, the extent of the crisis on the mass transit system is not well known, since the county’s point-in-time count does not send volunteers to count those riding trains or buses or sleeping on Metro property, the county reported. The recent homeless count put L.A. County’s homeless population at just over 69,000. “It is not Metro’s core mission to solve this crisis in our county,” Hahn said. “But they’ve been trying to do it, but Metro can’t do even what they are doing, by themselves. We need to work together with Metro — help them out.” Funds from Measure H, the one-quarter cent sales tax approved by 69.34% of county voters in March 2017 that generates dollars for preventing and addressing homelessness countywide, is not available to Metro, Barger explained. First District Supervisor Hilda Solis said the county will need more personnel joining outreach and mental health teams to expand into Metro areas. “It is going to be a big lift for all of us,” she said.
PUBLISHED: October 18, 2022 at 3:44 p.m. | UPDATED: October 18, 2022 at 3:48 p.m