Did Garcetti obtain his $250 million pledge?



As protests erupted final yr over the dying of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti mentioned he would slash $250 million from city departments and put the cash towards Black communities and different communities of colour.

Garcetti and the Metropolis Council rapidly moved to chop $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Division price range, directing a small portion of the cash to jobs packages. The mayor mentioned he achieved the rest of his objective not by chopping the price range however by tapping a whole lot of tens of millions of in federal funds offered to town to answer COVID-19.

These federal funds, allotted beneath the Coronavirus Help, Reduction, and Financial Safety Act, or CARES, went to pay for packages to handle homelessness, which disproportionately impacts Black residents, Garcetti mentioned.

Nonetheless, some activists are criticizing the mayor over his dealing with of the pledge, saying he shouldn’t have relied on federal funding to meet it. Others mentioned Garcetti ought to have invested a major amount of cash in financial growth and youth companies.

“Addressing homelessness isn’t shorthand for addressing Black points,” mentioned Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles. Whereas she acknowledged that Black Angelenos face greater charges of homelessness, Abdullah argued that the mayor was merely “regifting” the federal funds.

The controversy is a component of a bigger back-and-forth between advocacy teams and metropolis officers over calls for to defund the LAPD and redirect these financial savings to social companies, comparable to financial growth, lease reduction and psychological well being counseling.

Activists are already planning to push onerous for his or her spending priorities in April, when the mayor will unveil his price range for the fiscal yr beginning July 1.

Complicating issues, Garcetti and a few on the Metropolis Council are nonetheless at odds over how one can spend a few of the $150 million lower final summer time from the LAPD price range. Metropolis Council President Nury Martinez not too long ago spearheaded an effort to spend about $88 million on financial, infrastructure and beautification initiatives in lower-income neighborhoods. Critics known as it a slush fund for council members.

Garcetti finally vetoed the list of potential projects into consideration by the council, arguing in a letter to the group that the initiatives didn’t “meet the calls for of the second” and that the cash ought to be centered on addressing problems with racial justice, earnings inequality, neighborhood security and extra.

The mayor’s workplace by no means publicly introduced how Garcetti would use the $250 million he pledged June three. Some leaders of advocacy teams mentioned they didn’t know that a lot of the cash was accounted for till they had been contacted Thursday by The Occasions.

Alberto Retana, who heads the South L.A. nonprofit Neighborhood Coalition, mentioned town has did not make an actual funding to handle anti-Black racism and questioned Garcetti’s assertion that he had fulfilled his pledge.

“It appears wish to me that they’re making an attempt to rationalize an funding,” Retana mentioned.

Garcetti made his pledge as metropolis streets had been stuffed with protesters demanding an finish to police brutality and a extra equitable distribution of presidency companies.

Neighborhood Coalition and different teams urged Garcetti in a letter dated June three to chop the LAPD price range by at the least $250 million and make investments cash in an array of social companies. On the identical day, Martinez introduced plans to chop that price range by as much as $150 million.

That night, throughout a televised briefing, Garcetti introduced that he was upping town’s monetary dedication.

“I’ve instructed and dedicated to it in public to [the City Council] that our metropolis, via our metropolis administrative officer, establish $250 million in cuts,” Garcetti mentioned at a information briefing. “So we are able to spend money on jobs, in well being, training and in therapeutic.”

The mayor mentioned the cash could be centered on L.A.’s Black neighborhood, “in addition to communities of colour and girls and individuals who have been left behind.”

Nevertheless, in an interview with The Occasions in December, Garcetti denied saying he would lower $250 million.

Alex Comisar, spokesman for Garcetti, mentioned earlier this month that the mayor was all the time planning to make use of a mixture of metropolis and federal funds to achieve his objective.

“When the mayor quantified town funds to be invested in lifting up communities of colour, he was referring to the $150 million we diverted from the police price range, along with the federal CARES funding now we have allotted towards housing and serving our homeless neighbors, which now exceeds $200 million,” Comisar mentioned.

Los Angeles has obtained greater than $900 million in federal funds beneath the CARES Act, cash that can be utilized to cowl direct spending on pandemic response and the secondary financial results from the shutdown.

Town has allotted these funds to supply numerous types of reduction, together with $100 million for lease subsidies and as a lot as $50 million to assist Angelenos with their utility payments.

In September, the Metropolis Council voted to commit $200 million in federal reduction funds for homelessness initiatives, a transfer that helps fulfill an settlement town not too long ago reached with the county to supply shelter for unhoused Angelenos.

Dealing with a federal courtroom order in an ongoing lawsuit, town and county agreed in June to supply 6,700 “interventions” — thought-about to be beds or different methods to shelter homeless residents — over the subsequent yr and a half. Town’s value of that program is predicted to prime $500 million.

Martinez, who heads the committee that allocates the federal reduction cash, credited her colleagues with directing the cash in September to needy Angelenos.

Requested about Garcetti’s remarks, Martinez mentioned, “It was the work of the council to provoke and commit the $200 million of CARES reduction towards homelessness.”

Pete White, who heads the antipoverty group Los Angeles Neighborhood Motion Community, mentioned he’s glad to see an infusion of federal funds for tackling homelessness. However he questioned whether or not Garcetti is addressing the structural racism that pushes Black folks into homelessness.

“When you’re simply giving into the homeless infrastructure because it exists, you’re lacking Black folks,” White mentioned.

Occasions workers author David Zahniser contributed to this report.