Assembly Bill 761 is currently under discussion in the Senate. Introduced by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Van Nuys), the bill would authorize the use of any armory deemed vacant by the Military Department by the city or county they are in to house the homeless as a temporary shelter. Unlike the current law, which only allows such shelter between October 15 and April 15, the bill would make them open year round.
AB 761 was put forward as an alternate way to house homeless people and those going through a crisis in housing. Those for the bill have cited the rise of homelessness and the need for temporary housing.
“The state needs to do more to get people off the street and back on their feet,” said Assemblyman Nazarian in a written statement. “Drastically cutting the costs for cities and non-profits to use armories as temporary shelters is common sense.” In the same statement, Nazarian also noted the large number of homeless people who have been dying of exposure and hypothermia due to having no place to go, and that as bridge housing, they could also be easily connected with health and welfare professionals.
Homeless advocacy groups, such as the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA) have also given their support for AB 761. LAHSA has stated “AB 761 provides communities a measure of relief, as many, including our own, struggle to identify ways to quickly shelter our neighbors and offer service pathways to more permanent housing solutions. LAHSA estimates that if AB 761 were to pass, an additional 600 beds in LA County would become readily available as a result. ”
There has been little opposition to AB 761, despite opposition being strong on similar bills in the past. Jack Carter, who was the former head of a San Diego County citizens group that tracked government waste, remarked upon the turnaround in opposition.
“Ten years ago, we would have been up in arms about putting homeless bums in buildings we pay for that weren’t designated to them,” Carter told the Globe. “But now, homelessness is everywhere. Here they regularly use peoples hoses from their lawn just for a drink or a quick shower. In LA and San Francisco, tents are everywhere. So the mindset of a lot of us has gone from not it being a problem, to being a huge problem with no easy fix. And, if those armories aren’t being used to store weapons or being of any other use, then they might as well be used.”
“Many of us who were saying ‘Get a Job’ are now saying ‘Ok, we’ll put you up for the night. I think that’s why no one has really come out and crusaded against this.”
AB 761 is expected to pass and be sent to the Governor for approval later this year.