In an attempt to end unsheltered homelessness, New York state passed a right to shelter mandate in 1979. This mandate provides all individuals experiencing homelessness a place to sleep overnight. A right to shelter has been an efficient way of ensuring that individuals experiencing street homelessness receive temporary housing. However, shelters are not a long-term strategy for ending homelessness. In the way that New York’s right to shelter has curbed unsheltered homelessness, local politicians and advocates have argued that a right to housing mandate could theoretically provide individuals experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles with some type of housing placement, potentially paired with a permanent housing plan. It is difficult to understand how such a mandate will change the homelessness landscape given that interpretations of a right to housing vary from guaranteed shelter to housing vouchers to permanent housing placements.
Understanding Potential Rights to Housing to Combat Homelessness in Los Angeles