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Waters Opening Statement at Los Angeles Field Hearing to Examine the Homelessness Crisis

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, delivered the following opening statement at a full Committee field hearing entitled, “Examining the Homelessness Crisis in Los Angeles.”

As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning. Welcome to the Committee on Financial Services field hearing entitled, “Examining the Homelessness Crisis in Los Angeles.” This is our first full Committee field hearing of the 116th Congress. I would like to thank the California African American Museum and its Executive Director George O. Davis, for hosting today's hearing.

As Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, I have made it a top priority to focus on homelessness. We are in a national homelessness crisis. Earlier this year, I convened the first ever full Committee hearing on homelessness. Today, we will continue our discussion by examining the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, and the federal, state, and local responses to address this great challenge that this city and our nation are facing.

According to the latest point in time count, both the City and County of Los Angeles experienced a 12 and 16 percent increase from last year in the number of people experiencing homelessness. On a given night, nearly 60,000 people experience homelessness in the County, while over 35,000 people experience homelessness in the City. I am describing some of our most vulnerable neighbors, including families with children, seniors, and unaccompanied youth.

We cannot ignore that our homelessness crisis is directly linked to the affordable housing crisis. Too many people cannot afford to keep a roof over their heads, as wages have not kept pace with rising rents. Los Angeles has one of the least affordable housing markets in the United States. In LA County, a renter earning the minimum wage of $13.25 per hour would need to work 79 hours a week in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment. As a result, approximately 721,000 households in the County are severely rent-burdened—meaning that they pay more than 50 percent of their income on rent.

We need a bold and comprehensive response at the federal, state, and local level to address the homelessness crisis. That’s why I have introduced the Ending Homelessness Act, legislation that would provide over $13 billion in funding to ensure every person experiencing homelessness in America has a place to call home. The Financial Services Committee passed this legislation earlier this year, and I am committed to doing everything I can to get the bill passed into law.

Both the County and City are working hard to combat the homelessness and affordable housing crises. Thanks to voters approving local ballot measures in 2016 and 2017, the City and County have robust new resources to fund initiatives that improve the lives of people experiencing homelessness.

Proposition HHH has helped fund the development of thousands of new permanent supportive housing units, and so far, funding from Measure H has helped 14,000 people find housing. However, much more needs to be done, including passing legislation like the Ending Homelessness Act into law at the federal level.

Today, we will receive testimony from representatives of the County and City, including Mayor Garcetti, who will testify on our third panel. We will also hear from housing and service providers who are on the ground every day delivering critical services to people experiencing homelessness.

I would like to thank our Committee Members who are in attendance today, Representative Brad Sherman, Representative Al Green, and Representative Sylvia Garcia for being here. I would also like to thank the Members of the California delegation who are not on the Committee who are here today, Representative Nanette Barragan, Representative Jimmy Gomez, and Representative Judy Chu, for joining us.

I look forward to hearing the witnesses' testimony.


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