The Atlantic

Los Angeles Is in Crisis. So Why Isn’t It Building More Housing?

Rising rents are feeding a surge in homelessness.
Source: Mike Blake / Reuters

A few short months ago, Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, was giving serious consideration to running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Now he finds himself in the midst of a homelessness crisis that could doom his political future.

If you were to conjure up the ideal California politician, you could do worse than Garcetti, a Jewish Mexican American Rhodes Scholar with a gift for gab, in English and Spanish, and a winningly unpretentious style. As if channeling a young Barack Obama, the mayor is fond of invoking storied moments from the American past—the Great Depression, the Second World War, the civil-rights movement—to suggest that if previous generations were able to turn daunting challenges into historic accomplishments, then we ought to hold ourselves to the same exacting standard, a welcome alternative to the sourness and fatalism of other politicians on the left and right. But when it comes to Los Angeles’s long-running battle with homelessness, the mayor’s rhetoric looks more delusional than inspirational.   

A month after Garcetti delivered his rousing State of the City address, California , revealing that after an encouraging 4 percent drop from, , and .

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min readPsychology
Dear Therapist: My Husband and I Don't Have Sex Anymore
The Atlantic6 min read
In Defense of Big Little Lies’ Second Season
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
Washington Can’t Wait for Mueller. Voters Have Moved On.
Rather than expecting fireworks from the former special counsel’s appearance before Congress, many seem wary of getting their hopes up.