Los Angeles is the meanest city in America when it comes to its treatment of the homeless, according to a new report by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and the National Coalition for the Homeless.
The ranking is based on several factors, including the number of laws targeted at the homeless, the enforcement of those laws, and the general public climate toward homeless people.
The report, Homes Not Handcuffs: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities, cites a University of California at Los Angeles study that found the city was spending $6 million a year to pay for 50 extra police officers to crack down on crime in Skid Row when only $5.7 million was budgeted for homeless services.
Los Angeles city officials say the new report is misleading. “It fails to detail the city’s Housing First strategy, which reflects national best practices for housing and services that help homeless individuals stay off the streets,” said Casey Hernandez, press deputy for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office, adding that since 2007, the mayor has dedicated $100 million annually to housing for the homeless.
Overall, the new report finds that many communities are getting tougher on the homeless. Looking at 224 cities surveyed in the latest study as well as in 2006, there was an 11 percent increase in laws prohibiting loitering in certain public places and a 7 percent hike in laws prohibiting “camping” in certain public places, reports the advocacy groups.
While L.A. topped the list, four Florida communities ranked in the Top 10. California had three on the list.
The Top 10 meanest cities were:
- Los Angeles
- St. Petersburg, Fla.
- Orlando, Fla.
- Gainesville, Fla.
- Kalamazoo, Mich.
- San Francisco
- Bradenton, Fla.
- Berkeley, Calif.