Who turned up the heat??? 🫠

Plus, could L.A. leverage Airbnb to house the homeless?

While a Texas grandma who went viral for “baking” a loaf of bread in her mailbox, the recent extreme heat is no joke. Monday was the hottest day on record in the Northern Hemisphere, just weeks after the hottest days on Earth were recorded. But, the heat doesn’t affect us all equally. Unhoused people who can’t find respite indoors are especially vulnerable.

Our latest story asks a simple question: Are ordinary Angelenos willing to step up to alleviate the twin housing and homelessness crises, which extreme weather makes even more dangerous?

(Shwetha is on vacation this week, but she sends her regards.)

FEATURED STORY

by Ethan Ward

A Black man and a Black woman sit next to each other on a couch, laughing and smiling while looking at each other.

Homecoming Project graduate KC Mathews (left) with former host Terri Brown. (Credit: Barbara Kinney/Emerson Collective)

How bad is homelessness in Los Angeles right now?

It’s an emergency…literally. Mayor Karen Bass extended her emergency declaration on homelessness because it is an “issue of life and death for the thousands of people who are living in tents and cars.”

On any given night in L.A. County, there are more than 75,000 people experiencing homelessness, up 9% from last year, according to a 2023 count of unhoused people by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). Over 46,000 of them are in the city of L.A., a 10% increase from last year. These numbers include people in shelters and on the streets living in cars, RVs or makeshift tents.

Can’t we just build more housing?

Yes, but….no? New housing has to be built densely to maximize available land—which is pricey. The costs of new construction continue to rise and building from scratch takes time. Los Angeles County and the city of L.A. have enlisted the help of motels, hotels and master leasing as a way to increase the supply of housing. But, there are other ways forward than starting from the ground up.

Leveraging proven housing models

“The homelessness sector alone can’t solve this issue,” said Saba Mwine, managing director of USC’s Homelessness Policy Research Institute. “Shared housing models can be a great way to facilitate a built-in community such as housing older adults, a rapidly growing homelessness population alongside young adults.”

The Homecoming Project from nonprofit Impact Justice is one program we can take a lesson from. It matches formerly incarcerated individuals with compassionate homeowners who have spare rooms available. Besides getting a population especially vulnerable to homelessness into stable housing, the program also provides a foundation for reentry after being released.

A woman stands just inside the open door of her home.

Martha Hernandez, an Airbnb Superhost in Los Angeles, opens the front door to her home. She rents out a normally unused room for extra income. (Richard H. Grant/AfroLA)

This kind of shared housing model is really a longer-term arrangement of a housing program most of us are familiar with by now—Airbnb. Airbnb has stepped up in times of emergency to help with temporary housing, beginning with Afghan refugees in 2020. And, through partnerships with nonprofits and L.A. County, 1,000 frontline workers were placed in housing. The Airbnb platform could be leveraged to connect homeowners willing to open their doors with those in need of shelter, guaranteeing them money through subsidies.

Read the full story for more on what a solutions-based approach to moving the unhoused indoors could look like—and how L.A. could help change the narrative around homelessness.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

by Shady Grove Oliver

Recent federal, state and local measures target 2035 as a goal to reduce emissions, invest in clean energy, ban gas-powered autos and add green space to school campuses. In our new solutions-reported climate change series, 2035, we’ll be covering the realities of these initiatives and how they’ll affect L.A.’s communities of color.

In the series’ first story, we explore the racist history of L.A.’s freeway system and how it contributed to negative health outcomes that disproportionately affect Black and Latine Angelenos.

Aerial via of smog settled over Los Angeles freeway interchange.

The Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange, connecting the Century Freeway (I-105) and the Harbor Freeway (I-110). (Credit: Rémi Jouan via Wikimedia Commons)

by Dana Amihere

“You may not recognize Kehinde Wiley’s name, but you likely have seen his work. Born in L.A. to a Nigerian father and Black American mother, Wiley was the first Black artist commissioned by the Smithsonian to paint an official presidential portrait.

“What I experienced through Wiley’s collection can only be described as discomfort supplanted by transfixion. His naturalistic images of Black men and women are people who look like my neighbors, friends, family. They’re normalized portrayals of Black people, wearing jeans and tees with close attention to the smallest details: from loose, flowing hair with oil on canvas to neat cornrows cast in bronze. His figures’ skin is flawless and the light frames them in a way that stops you in your tracks.”

Black man in a hoodie and jeans laying on his back on top of a boulder against an orange and teal-patterned background.

Femme Piquée par un Serpent (Mamadou Gueye), Kehine Wiley. (Photo credit: Ugo Carmeni via Galerie Templon, Paris)

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FROM OUR PARTNERS

As you know, sometimes we republish content from other mission-aligned news outlets to supplement our own coverage to keep you up to date on the important news regarding L.A.'s Black community and other communities of color. One of those nonprofit outlets is Mother Jones. This week, we’re each amplifying the other’s work.

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