A Call to Action on Homelessness

Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas issued a call to action after the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found Los Angeles County’s homeless population increased 23 percent over the past year to 57,794.

“We have business to do,” Chairman Ridley-Thomas said at a press conference organized by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). “No hand-wringing, no fretting, no ‘woe is me’ – it’s just simply time to roll up our sleeves and do what we know needs to be done. You’ve got to be ready to fight to end homelessness in the County of Los Angeles.”

Chairman Ridley-Thomas said voters’ passage of Measure H in March and Proposition HHH in November has “afforded us an opportunity to do what we have never ever had the opportunity to do in this region, and that is to step forward with our imagination, our compassion, our resources, and confront the issue of homelessness in the County of Los Angeles.”

“I am not at all discouraged by this (Homeless Count),” Chairman Ridley-Thomas added. “Many of us sensed that there was an uptick, and these numbers validate that. The good news is that we have the capacity, for the first time, to stand up to it.”

Measure H is a 1/4-cent sales tax expected to raise $355 million annually for services to the homeless countywide. It creates an unprecedented funding stream expected to move 45,000 homeless men, women and children into stable housing within the next five years, and provide them with the high-quality, multi-dimensional supportive services they need to succeed in the long run. It is also intended to prevent an estimated 30,000 people from becoming homeless in the first place. Proposition HHH, meanwhile, is a $1.2-billion bond measure estimated to build 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing in the City of Los Angeles.

“We have no excuse not to do our very best because we are now equipped,” Chairman Ridley-Thomas said, adding the County’s Homeless Initiative is “digging in deep” and so are city governments, nonprofit service providers and others engaged in the fight against homelessness. “There’s an army out there, and we’re ready to do what we must do,” he said.

On June 13, the Board of Supervisors will hear the final report of a 50-member planning group convened to develop funding recommendations for the first three years of Measure H revenue, totaling about $1 billion. Implementing those recommendations will begin in earnest during the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. Core strategies include:

  • Sending outreach and engagement teams to reach the homeless on every street corner;
  • Providing permanent housing with healthcare and other services;
  • Expanding rapid rehousing for the newly homeless;
  • Enhancing the emergency shelter system, including for those leavings jails and hospitals; and
  • Strengthening the network of community nonprofits already serving homeless single adults, families and youth.

“This planning effort has not been done in haste,” Chairman Ridley-Thomas said. “It is a reflection of years of work, principally by the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles with the input of thousands of stakeholders, to develop plans to deal with homelessness in a collaborative way.”

Also in attendance at the press conference were Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Marqueece Harris Dawson and LAHSA Commissioner Wendy Greuel and Executive Director Peter Lynn.

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