Creating Job Opportunities for Veterans and Their Spouses

The Board of Supervisors has adopted a new hiring policy that opens up thousands of job opportunities for military veterans and their spouses at Los Angeles County construction projects.

Acting on a motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Michael Antonovich, the Board approved a Local Worker Hiring Program policy that sets aside a portion of the labor on construction projects for veterans and their spouses.

“Veterans deserve all that we can reasonably do to ensure that they can support themselves and their families,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

“Our returning veterans deserve our gratitude and our assistance in transitioning to civilian employment,” added Supervisor Antonovich.

Under the policy, the County’s contractors must demonstrate a “good faith” effort to hire veterans and their spouses to complete at least 5 percent of the construction hours for projects worth less than $2.5 million, as well as for all job order contracts.

To be eligible, veterans must have received an honorable or general discharge, or retired from any branch of the Armed Forces. They must also be residents of the County.

The Board is still deciding whether to make it mandatory for the County’s contractors to employ at least some veterans and their spouses for projects valued at more than $2.5 million. It asked experts to report on the economic impact such a policy might have.

Supervisor Kuehl emphasized the new policy would benefit not only veterans but their spouses. “That’s important because it’s not always clear, especially for those veterans who have been seriously injured, whether they could be the sole providers for their families.”

Veterans have historically found it difficult to reenter the workforce after serving their country. A 2014 report from the USC School of Social Work found eight out of 10 service members leave the military without a job, and at least 40% leave without having identified permanent housing.

A 2015 report from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs found veterans have an 8 percent higher unemployment rate when compared to non-veterans. It also found more than half of veterans experience unemployment upon separation from service.

Currently, an estimated 4,300 veterans are homeless in the County.

Keith Jeffreys, executive director of the nonprofit United States Veterans’ Artists Alliance, expressed gratitude for the new policy, calling it “a spectacular effort.”

“This… creates a level playing field for veterans, and gives them a leg up to make up for time that they have lost,” he said.


TAP Cards at County Libraries


The Board of Supervisors is making it easier to get TAP cards to pay fares on public buses and trains throughout Los Angeles County.

Acting on a motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl, the Board approved a pilot program to sell TAP cards at the Lancaster, San Fernando, Paramount, El Monte and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Libraries starting in January.

“Making TAP cards conveniently available helps those who already use our buses and trains, and can encourage others to try catching a ride on public transit as well,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who chairs the board at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“With a TAP card, one can get all the way from Lancaster to Long Beach without having to fumble in pockets for change,” he added. “They can sit back and let Metro and the rest of the County’s two dozen public transit agencies do the driving.”

“The easier we make it for Angelenos to take public transit, the more likely it is that they’ll use it,” Supervisor Kuehl said.

“Now folks can buy or reload their TAP Cards while accessing all the great services our libraries have to offer,” said Kuehl. “A lot of new riders have difficulties figuring out how to buy Tap Cards, so having library staff onsite to help will make it a lot easier.”

TAP cards have an embedded computer chip, and can be reloaded and reused for up to a decade. Once registered at, lost or stolen TAP cards can be replaced along with any remaining cash value.

If the pilot program is successful, TAP cards may be sold additional libraries in the future.

“Providing Metro TAP cards is just one way we’re expanding our menu of services beyond books,” said Acting County Librarian/Chief Deputy Yolanda De Ramus.

“Whether we’re hosting flu vaccination clinics, offering passport acceptance services or providing Metro TAP cards, the County of Los Angeles Public Library is tailoring its mission to fit the needs of local communities we serve,” she added. “Plus, if people who rely on mass transit can get Metro TAP cards at our libraries, they’re more likely to see the library as a community resource – and to become regular library patrons.”


Establishing A Countywide Enterprise Data Center

Ramping up its efforts to streamline Los Angeles County’s Information Technology systems, the Board of Supervisors has voted to establish a consolidated Data Center.

“We are not only on the path to modernize countywide Information Technology, but we are doing it in the most cutting-edge, energy-efficient, and cost-effective way,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Acting on his motion, co-authored by Supervisor Don Knabe, the Board decided to merge the County’s 49 data centers into a single facility. The goal is to reduce the cost of hardware, software and operations; shift to more efficient computing platforms; use less energy and real estate; and boost security.

Last year, the County’s previous CEO proposed building a 58,000-sq. ft. data center on a 154,015-sq. ft. lot for $209 million. That estimate covered only construction costs and did not factor in power, cooling or operational expenses.

Concerned the proposal would result in an overpriced, oversized and inefficient data center that may eventually become obsolete, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas urged the Board to consult independent experts.

An analysis by Gartner, one of the world’s leading IT research and advisory companies, concluded the County needs only 5,000-sq. ft. to 10,000 sq. ft. of space.

Gartner also recommended leasing – instead of buying or building – a data center, as that would save at least $50 million in construction costs.

The lease cost already includes power and cooling, resulting in additional savings. It would also enable a much faster migration to the new facility.

On Tuesday, the Board directed the County’s Chief Executive Officer to proceed with a lease approach, and work towards establishing a data center by mid-2017.



Housing the Homeless on Skid Row

image2Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas provided the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) with $500,000 to get as many as 200 homeless persons off Skid Row and into housing this winter.

The discretionary funding was initially intended for DHS recuperative care programs but then shifted to rapid rehousing programs because of the urgent need to provide shelter during the cold months.

The money will now support a County/City/Community project called C3, which is a public and private initiative that deploys four mental and physical health clinical teams to Skid Row. They conduct outreach and connect the homeless to interim residential options and permanent housing with services.

C3 will use the money for interim housing slots critical to making sure that homeless individuals have safe temporary housing while permanent supportive housing options are being identified.

DHS anticipates the $500,000 will help get about 200 people off the streets. It will tap its Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool, which receives $4 million in funding from the County each year, to help pay for their permanent supportive housing.

Another source of money for permanent supportive housing is a $10-million rapid rehousing program that the County is launching in response to the coming El Nino, pursuant to a Board motion authored by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

DHS will also utilize permanent housing available through the County’s Coordinated Entry System, which matches homeless individuals to appropriate services and housing.