LA Hits Another Milestone in Fight Against Homelessness

LAHSA Executive Director Peter Lynn, LA County Homeless Initiative Director Phil Ansell, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Supervisor Janice Hahn, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Joe Buscaino and several Homeless Count volunteers celebrate progress in the fight against homelessness. All Photos by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors.

Standing in the courtyard of a brand new affordable housing apartment building, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn, and LA City Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Joe Buscaino announced that tens of thousands of men, women and children throughout Los Angeles County have been placed in permanent homes and interim housing since voters approved landmark initiatives to combat homelessness. They each encouraged everyone to help sustain this progress by volunteering for the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas greets 63-year-old Horace Lackey who, thanks to Measure H, just moved into the 127th Street and El Segundo Boulevard Apartments after living for years at a homeless encampment on 39th and Broadway in South LA. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors.

“Thanks to Measure H, we have collectively housed almost 10,000 men, women and children — and that’s just over the last 15 months,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “There’s more work ahead of us but this is tangible progress and a sign that we should redouble our efforts. As we head into the season of giving, let us roll up our sleeves, open our hearts and extend our hands to help our unhoused neighbors.”

The progress report was announced during a press conference at the Harbor Gateway area’s newly-opened 127th Street and El Segundo Boulevard Apartments, a 160-unit apartment complex that includes the kinds of supportive services that Angelenos voted for by landslide numbers with 2016’s Prop HHH and 2017’s Measure H.

In the last 15 months, the Measure H quarter-cent sales tax has funded a major expansion of countywide homelessness programs including street outreach, emergency shelter, rapid rehousing, supportive housing, and benefits advocacy for homeless disabled adults, and thousands of people have received much-needed help — including 9,635 homeless men, women and children who are now in permanent housing. During the same time period, 18,714 people entered crisis, bridge and interim housing.

“Nearly two years ago, we made a bold promise to voters: that with Measure H funding we would be able to help lift 45,000 out of homelessness in five years,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “Today, we are well on our way to delivering on that promise.”

Other measurable progress due to Measure H includes:

  • Connecting to benefits: 8,479 disabled individuals received assistance applying for SSI and Veterans Disability Benefits;
  • Supportive services and rent: 4,165 clients were linked to Intensive Case Management Services connected to supportive housing. Of those, 1,717 received federal rental subsidies and 1,604 clients received local rental subsidies;
  • Partnering with providers: The County provided $1,802,988 in incentives to landlords to help secure 757 affordable apartments for recipients of Section 8 housing vouchers;
  • Boots on the ground: More than 350 Measure H-funded street outreach workers, including members of 36 multidisciplinary street outreach teams, are now working across the County;
  • Hiring vs. homelessness: As of September 2018, homeless service providers have filled almost 1,500 new jobs across the region.

The Measure H progress report accompanied a  volunteer drive for the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, which the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) will conduct from January 22-24, 2019.

“Homelessness is the most pressing issue facing L.A. today — and we can only end it if everyone steps up and works together,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “We have made encouraging progress in this fight over the last year. But the work is far from over, and we must keep pushing forward. That’s why it is so important to sign up and volunteer for the 2019 count.”

Since the November 2016 passage of the $1.2-billion Prop HHH, the City of Los Angeles has funded more than two dozen facilities with about 600 affordable apartments. As those continue to come on line, the City of Los Angeles has also  launched A Bridge Home, designating city-owned real estate to help people come off the streets more quickly. A Bridge Home has already opened temporary housing sites in Hollywood and Downtown.

Press Conference at the newly opened 127th Street and El Segundo Boulevard Apartments, which have a combined 160 units — most of which now house people who had been living on the streets. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors

Peter Lynn, Executive Director of LAHSA, reiterated the need for Homeless Count volunteers. “Every year, Los Angeles County residents by the thousands spend a couple of January nights walking the streets where too many of our homeless neighbors live,” he said.  “These efforts help us recognize the scale of our crisis and the specifics of our fellow Angelenos’ lives. And they come on top of admirable work throughout the years to lessen those neighbors’ burden—whether by showing up to support locating affordable and bridge housing in their communities, helping win new resources to address this crisis at scale, or helping their fellow Angelenos with donations and care.”

Thousands of volunteers sign up to join the Homeless Count every year, reaching 8,500 in 2018. Volunteers receive training and walk designated areas in small groups. LAHSA accompanies the street count with institutional counts, demographic surveys, a youth count, and statistical analysis in partnership with the University of Southern California that fully develops our picture of homelessness. Volunteer registration for the 2019 Homeless Count is live at www.theycountwillyou.org.

The results of the January 2018 Count showed homelessness had fallen for the first time in years, decreasing by 4 percent to 53,195.

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas On Exploring Sidewalk Vending Regulations

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas speaks at the Board of Supervisors meeting on November 11, 2018. Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas issued the following statement after the Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn to gather information on Los Angeles County’s sidewalk vending industry and to recommend policies and programs in light of SB 946, a new state law that decriminalized sidewalk vending:

“SB 946 poses a new landscape for street vending policy in Los Angeles County, and an opportunity to present innovative, forward-thinking and balanced policies that promote public health and economic development. We affirm that all those who seek to earn a livelihood deserve dignity and a legal, fair and equitable process. I look forward to the issue returning to the Board after a healthy and comprehensive conversation that includes the full range of impacted stakeholders.”

Free Transit on Election Day

A new motion eliminates a leading barrier to voter participation, by providing all riders with free Election Day rides on Metro.

The authors — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl, and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia — put the proposal forward at the Metro Executive Management Committee meeting, directing the transit agency to lift fares for all riders on Nov. 6, 2018.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s 2016 Survey of the Performance of American Elections (SPAE) found that 51% of California voters cited a lack of transportation as a factor for not voting. Other studies have shown that lack of access to transportation to get to polls disproportionately affects minority voters, people with low incomes, persons with disabilities, and young people; these populations are also the ones most reliant on Metro for mobility.

“On Election Day, our priority must be making sure voters in all corners of the county are undeterred from getting to the ballot box and exercising their right to vote,” said Supervisor and Metro Director Ridley-Thomas. “Free rides are a great way to help make that happen.”

“A lack of transportation should never stand between a voter and the polls,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Every vote counts in this democracy, and we have to do everything we can to help Americans exercise our most fundamental right.”

“Voting is one of the most important acts of civic engagement,” said Metro Chair and Supervisor Kuehl, “And Metro wants to make sure our County voters get the message: ‘Please vote! We want to make it easy for you.’”

“Unfortunately, transportation is an obstacle many voters face when trying to get to their polling place,” said Mayor Garcia. “I’m glad that free transit will be offered as a resource to ensure every voter has a way to get to their polling place and cast their vote.”

The motion will go to the Metro Board of Directors for approval at its regular meeting on October 25.

County Begins Phase One of Construction on Vermont Corridor Project in Koreatown

Los Angeles County leaders break ground on Phase One of the Vermont Corridor project on October 17, 2018. Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg / Board of Supervisors

The County broke ground on Phase One of a comprehensive effort to redevelop along the Vermont Corridor, as part of its commitment to provide a state-of-the-art home for County employees and clients and revitalize communities that are home to County facilities and services.

Rendering by Gensler of 468,000-sq. ft. office tower that will be developed by the Trammell Crow Company to serve as the Vermont Corridor Administration Building.

Officials from the Community Development Commission/Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (CDC/HACoLA) joined Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH), the Los Angeles County Workforce Development, Aging, and Community Services (WDACS), and other dignitaries to celebrate the commencing of construction for the multi-phased mixed-use Koreatown development.

This 21-story office building is one of three sites that will begin to transform Vermont Avenue, between 4th and 6th Street. Once completed, it will house LACDMH and WDACS.

This location will include walk-in mental health services, utilizing ground-floor clinic and office space. With access to the Metro Vermont/Wilshire Red Line Station, Los Angeles County residents will be able to access an array of mental-health services. LACDMH will also consolidate its administrative functions into this centralized building, and expand several of its operations.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony. Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg / Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas shared, “The Vermont Corridor Project represents our commitment to revitalizing the communities that are home to County facilities and services. In addition to supporting a robust and thriving community, we are also supporting our own. Every year, LACDMH and WDACS help tens of thousands of residents. Through these state-of-the-art County facilities, LACDMH and WDACS employees will be able to deliver improved services – from prevention to recovery – and assist their clients in taking the first steps on a journey toward healing and self-sufficiency.”

The Vermont Corridor Project was a collaborative effort between the County, Trammell Crow, and community organizations, such as the Anderson Munger Family YMCA and NewStory Church, which took several years to come to fruition.

“There has been a lot of hard work and collaboration leading up to this groundbreaking,” Monique King-Viehland, CDC/HACoLA Executive Director shared. “The Vermont Corridor will soon be transformed into a place where many people can call home and can receive reliable, supportive services.”

Dr. Jon Sherin, Director of LACDMH, said, “I’m so proud of Los Angeles County for working together to reduce barriers and build a better future of mental health care. This new building will support a whole-person approach to recovery and wellbeing, with an open, friendly environment that’s healthier for the people we serve and a better workplace for the staff who inspire hope and work so hard to help people in great need.”

“This is a place where life transformation is bound to take place,” Pastor Tom Kang from NewStory Church shared. “We ask that this would be a place of hope, of positive life transformation to the community at large as well as to every employee and client who will be using this new building in the future.”

In addition to the new County Administrative Office Building, future phases of the Vermont Corridor Project will include a 72-unit housing development and supportive services reserved for seniors with limited means and formerly homeless seniors, as well as market-rate housing.

Bioscience Gets a Boost in LA County

Los Angeles County took a major step towards fostering a vibrant business ecosystem to help the local bioscience industry reach its full potential as a job-creating economic engine that advances breakthroughs in global health.

Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

At the 2018 Bioscience Summit hosted by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. County announced the creation of Bioscience Los Angeles County or BioLA, which will serve as an innovation catalyst and entrepreneurial hub for government, research institutions and private investors to accelerate startup activity and amplify economic opportunity throughout the region. The move sends a strong signal that the County is committed to becoming a global leader in bioscience.

Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors

“With an $8.7-billion budget dedicated to health services, L.A. County is uniquely invested in the success of the bioscience sector as it develops innovations to improve health and quality of life,” L.A. County Chief Executive Officer Sachi A. Hamai said.

“L.A. County has always generated vast and exceptional bioscience research, and we deserve an infrastructure that helps scientists, entrepreneurs and investors come together to create America’s next wave of great companies,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “BioLA will be our public-private partnership singularly dedicated to growing this innovation ecosystem.”

Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

During the Summit, held at Loyola Marymount University, more than 300 bioscience experts and entrepreneurs, government officials, healthcare executives, academic leaders and investors discussed strategies for boosting L.A. County’s bioscience industry, including nurturing startup companies, spurring capital investments and building a trained workforce.

Biomedical Growth Strategies President and CEO Susan R. Windham-Bannister. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

“BioLA will play an essential role coalescing the bioscience community to drive the discovery and development of treatments and cures for patients,” said Biomedical Growth Strategies President and CEO Susan R. Windham-Bannister, one of the panelists at the summit. “A key to transforming Los Angeles into a leading innovation hub is an independent entity like BioLA, whose sole mission is to strengthen and sustain the life sciences ecosystem through collaboration, strategic investments and the acceleration of startup activity.”

“L.A. County needs to play to its strengths: visibility, variety and viability,” added Larta Institute CEO Rohit Shukla, who also served as panelist. “I am proud to help connect start-ups and emerging innovations to the variety of incubation and development opportunities that exist in the area –  our hospitals, research institutions and space-based facilities.”

Wild Earth CEO Ryan Bethencourt and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

Grifols Biologicals LLC President Willie Zuniga, another panelist, noted his company is already working to create career pathways in bioscience. “Grifols partners with local colleges and universities to create sustainable employment pipelines of skilled individuals for key biomanufacturing and quality positions,” he said. “The best part is that many of these individuals are from our surrounding communities.

The local bioscience industry currently generates more than $40 billion in economic activity annually and supports 70,000 direct jobs and 160,000 indirect jobs, but has the potential to create even more, at all skill levels. Resilient against economic downturns, bioscience was the only industry sector that continued to grow during the Great Recession.

Creating BioLA is only the latest L.A. County initiative to boost the bioscience industry. The County is also:

  • Funding bioscience incubators at CalState LA and at LA Biomed on the Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus;
  • Developing a 15-acre biotech park on the Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus;
  • Setting aside $15 million to create a Bioscience Investment Fund for early-stage startups; and
  • Partnering with community colleges and industry leaders to implement life sciences apprenticeship programs.

Following the Summit, panel moderators and participants will recap discussions and formulate a “Bioscience Action Plan” for the region, focused on identifying achievable goals and setting milestones for measuring progress. For more information, visit http://economicdevelopment.lacounty.gov/bioscience/ or https://www.biolac.org/