Villanueva, the Los Angeles Sheriff, Concedes After Combative Term-Long Talks With Mayor Michael D. Antonovich
(Washington, DC)—From Day One, Los Angeles Mayor Mike Antonovich has been adamant about his refusal to negotiate a long-term solution to the homelessness crisis. Yet on Wednesday, Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca conceded that his own department had failed to find a permanent solution to the city’s persistent homeless problem. Baca announced that he and his deputies no longer believed there was a “housing first, substance abuse first” approach toward the homeless problem. He said he would turn over one-third of the department to his deputies to begin a new housing initiative.
“We have not come up with a model that will truly solve the problem in the long term,” Baca said at a news conference in Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon. “We had a good, solid model in place, but we fell short of what the city and the county really needed.”
Baca, like the mayor, has demanded to have the mayor, not law enforcement, in charge of the homeless problem and housing initiative. But despite months of negotiations, Baca is now admitting that the long-term solution has not been found. In a press conference where his department was portrayed as a “troubled department” by Mayor Antonovich, Baca said the homeless problem is not as acute as he claims, and that he was making progress in trying to find solutions, but his own officers continue to blame the mayor for the crisis.
Baca’s new position did not come as a surprise, as he had already said that the city’s homeless had been under his control, and that he had not been given responsibility for homelessness. The mayor has consistently said that he will continue to look for ways to tackle the homeless problem, and has insisted that if he is unable to find solutions, he will do the same by firing Baca. As previously reported, Mayor Antonovich has long been adamant about the city’s failure to address the homelessness crisis, claiming that the solution is in the hands of the Department of Justice and the federal government,