- Second District
In Los Angeles County, 7,391 families struggle nightly to find a way to survive without shelter. In 2010, several agencies began to develop a regional approach to providing not just housing, but supportive services and need-based assistance to better help homeless families regain stability. In some cases, mental health and substance abuse services, or housing assistance made the difference.
The Family Solutions Centers started last March with $3.7 million in city and county funding, with the goal of rapidly rehousing homeless households and offering centers throughout Los Angeles County where homeless can go to have problems professionally assessed. To date, there are seven lead agencies that host Family Solution Centers in six of the eight service planning areas in Los Angeles County. These Family Solutions can direct families to health services, employment assistance services, rental assistance or emergency housing. And the program has already proven to be successful, having seen 1,542 families between March and December. Three hundred and two of those families were able to avoid homelessness, 305 were placed in interim housing, and 417 were provided permanent housing.
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved an additional $10.2 million to set up more Family Solution Centers to offer more services. An additional $2.4 million is also being considered for mental health services. The centers will extend to at least eight agencies and promises to service all eight service planning areas in Los Angeles County. The services will be expanded to include social service case managers and substance abuse treatment. The expanded program will promote collaboration between public agencies and homeless service providers and be called the Homeless Family Solutions System. The system also includes the collection of data to assess which programs are working and to track long term success with families.
“Families are the core of our community,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “And today we have the opportunity to improve the way we deliver services to those families most in need.”
Christine Mirasy-Glasco, executive director of Upward Bound House, a community-based social service agency, testified before Board of Supervisors Tuesday in support of expanding Family Solutions Centers. The centers, she said, have streamlined the process of getting help for families. “Families used to have to travel around the entire county every day looking for services,” Mirasy-Glasco said. “This changes all of that.”
A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that 85 percent of homeless people in Philadelphia who were given housing and support were still in housing two years later and were unlikely to become homeless again.
Research shows that people spend less time in expensive emergency rooms and hospital beds when they have housing. Children are able to attend school and do homework when they have a warm home, a bed to sleep in and a sturdy table to write on.
“It is a proven program. It works. And it’s been evaluated,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added, “Without question, supporting homeless families with services and housing saves money in the long run. It simply costs less to serve and house than it does to ignore. It’s an investment in our future.”
Click here for more information about Family Service Centers.
Los Angeles County residents who want to report a zoning violation such as an overgrown front yard or an abandoned car on the street or even a fallen tree in a park can use a simple app to let county officials know about the problem.
“The Works,” a mobile application used by more than 2,800 county residents over the past two years to request graffiti removal, pothole repairs and street sweeping, now has been expanded to include the departments of Parks and Recreation, Public Health and Regional Planning.
Jesse Juarros, Public Works chief information officer, said that this app expedites services.
“Part of our mission at Public Works is to enrich the daily lives of the residents of L.A. County,” said Juarros. “With that in mind we sought to build an application that would provide citizens with an opportunity to easily report issues or problems that they may encounter when they are out and about.”
The Works application allows users to submit a detailed description, attach related photos and provide contact information for additional follow-up. Services are tracked in real time using Global Positioning System. The Works can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. The app will also allow residents to report an issue outside of L.A. County and automatically provide the contact information for the appropriate city agency.
To download the app click here.
“Jackie Robinson is important to me because he was the first African-American baseball player,” Kamryn said. “Also, he played for the Dodgers. And out of a million parks in the world, the Dodgers have chosen us. He’s looking down on all the hope-to-be baseball players and blessing them.”
The Dodgers Dreamfield at Jesse Owens Park, a 20-acre park in South Los Angeles named after one of the most celebrated African American Olympians of all time, is the latest of five fields built with funding from the Dodgers Foundation, LA 84, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Created in 1998, the Dodgers Foundation provides educational, athletic and recreation opportunities for children in the Los Angeles area, with a special emphasis in helping underserved youth. LA84 was endowed with surplus funds from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles to serve children through sports. Jesse Owens Park is the fifth partnership in the second district following the renovations of Athens, Lennox, Mona, and Campanella park fields. Dreaming in the batter’s box are Ted Watkins Park and Roosevelt Park, which Supervisor Ridley-Thomas hopes will be funded later this year.
Jesse Owens Park received $266,000 worth of upgrades including new bases, paint, scoreboards, signage, dugout roofs and fresh green grass.
For 14-year-old Chayanne, who was born and raised two blocks away, the park is a fresh beginning. Since she began playing at the age of five, baseball has held a special place in her childhood memories.
“I didn’t know how to hit the ball or catch or do anything like that. It was just running in dirt circles,” she said.
The field needed some help. She remembers one game — before the park’s recent renovation — where she accidentally ran past the bases because they were buried in dirt. And it became so difficult to play that Chayanne eventually stopped playing altogether.
But inspired by the professional Dodgers players and the 200 children invited to participate in the dedication ceremony, Chayanne might grab a bat again.
“It’s important to have this baseball field for the new up-and-comers,” says Chayanne. “Now there’s green grass and it looks way nicer. And it’s way bigger. And I might start playing baseball again because of this field.”
To capture the spirit of Willowbrook and its unique sense of place, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission hired artist Rosten Woo to chronicle the stories of its residents, their homes and surroundings. The result is a beautiful book of essays and photographs called Willowbrook is…Willowbrook es, which was unveiled Saturday, March 14, at a public book signing event. The book is also available for sale at the AC Bilbrew Library, with proceeds to benefit the nonprofit Friends of the Library.
Pressing ahead with the Slauson Corridor Revitalization Project, business owners on the south side of Slauson Avenue between Overhill Drive and Angeles Vista have agreed to a brand new uniform façade look, with shared heights, color schemes of lime green, gray and beige and the same type on the awning signs.
The awning replacement is part of the Slauson Corridor Revitalization Project, which will make the area from Angeles Vista Boulevard to La Brea Avenue more pedestrian friendly and attractive as a destination for local merchants and community residents.
The total cost of the proposed awning improvements is $550,000, funded by the Second Supervisorial District’s Community Development Commission funds. Construction is expected to begin by May 2014 and is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. While the county also wanted to bring improvements to the north side of the street, property owners were unwilling to participate. By seeing the renovations on the south side of the street, county officials hope the business owners on the north side will eventually agree to a re-do.
In addition, residents have been asked for their feedback on three “looks” for landscaping Slauson Avenue. Improvements will include new median landscaping, street trees, benches, pedestrian lighting and trash receptacles. The native plants and drought resistant foliage varies in colors from greens and gray succulents to bursts of orange and crimson red bougainvillea. A final design will be developed this spring, with construction expected to begin in May 2015 and to be complete by December 2015. The project is estimated to cost approximately $2.5 million.
Working with the branding company, Sussman/Prejza, the Community Development Commission will also help residents come up with a distinct identity for the revitalized corridor.
“When the Slauson Corridor Revitalization Project is completed, this area will be transformed,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “It will have the attractive landscaping, walkways and small businesses that are pleasing to the eye and that help to make it a community gathering place.”