County and Cities Team Up to Provide Permanent Supportive Housing

With funding from Measure H, Los Angeles County and its cities are teaming up to quickly place thousands of homeless people into permanent housing that comes with the supportive services, rental subsidies and other assistance needed to thrive.

The Board of Supervisors approved a motion by its Chairman, Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl that creates a template for such joint County-city efforts. Under this partnership, the County will provide supportive services that would go hand in hand with rental subsidies and other assistance from cities.

LA Councilmen Marqueece Harris-Dawson and José Huizar, and peer advocate Reba Stevens speak at a press conference on County-city partnerships for the homeless.  Photo by Bryan Chan/Board of Supervisors

To date, LA, Long Beach, Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, Pomona and Redondo Beach have committed a combined total of 2,084 rental vouchers that can be distributed to the homeless. Using the template, the County can streamline the delivery of supportive services – which can include healthcare, mental health and substance abuse treatments, case management, even job training – to the beneficiaries of those rental vouchers.

LA County’s Community Development Commission is currently working with Compton, Santa Monica, Culver City and other cities to ensure their own assistance to the homeless is also matched with supportive services. This wide-ranging collaboration is unprecedented in the nation.

“Homelessness is the defining civic issue of our time and addressing it requires all hands on deck,” Chairman Ridley-Thomas said. “By working cooperatively, efficiently and urgently, the County and cities are not only taking people off the streets but also putting them on a path to long-term stability and recovery.”

Glendale City Councilmember Paula Devine and Burbank City Councilmember Sharon Springer testify, along with representatives of other cities, in favor of streamlining cooperation between cities and the County. Photo by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors

West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman said the key is providing permanent supportive housing as opposed to merely housing. “What we are seeing on the streets are people having problems with substance abuse and mental health issues and physical challenges, and we can’t get them the help that they need without both shelter and supportive services.”

LA City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson said, “Homelessness tends not to recognize municipal boundaries, so it requires all of us – from neighborhood to neighborhood, block to block, city to city, council to council, mayor to mayor – to work together to end homelessness in our time.”

“Through the Supervisors’ commitment highlighted by today’s vote, people experiencing homelessness in LA County, including the City of LA, will get the wraparound and rental assistance services they need and deserve,” LA City Councilmember José Huizar said.

Measure H is intended to end homeless for 45,000 people across the County within the next five years, and prevent homelessness for another 30,000 people, including women and children, veterans, seniors, foster youth and survivors of domestic violence. The ¼-cent sales tax approved by voters in March is projected to raise $355 million annually for 10 years.

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Athens Vistas Groundbreaking

Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas led a groundbreaking ceremony for Athens Vistas Apartments, which will provide affordable housing for homeless and low-income seniors in unincorporated Athens when completed in late 2018.

Located at 1300 W. 105th Street, the development will feature 73 affordable and accessible one-bedroom units, half of which will be designated for formerly homeless individuals.

“The project will transform this property from a long-time blight to one of community pride,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas said at the groundbreaking ceremony. He added the community should also anticipate new trees, parks and road improvements, as well as improvements to local business along Vermont Avenue and workforce development opportunities.

Chairman Ridley-Thomas noted 2,000 affordable housing units have been built in the Second District since he took office in 2008. Another 1,000 units are in the pipeline.

“Given that Los Angeles County has a shortage of 500,000 affordable housing units, projects like Athens Vistas Apartments are critical to addressing our crisis of homelessness,” he added.

The Salvation Army, the lead service provider at Athens Vistas, will link residents with essential services based on their individual needs. This will include case management, mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling and other supportive services.

The Los Angeles County Housing Development Corp. and Veloce Partners Inc. are developing the project, with the Birba Group as architect and Walton Construction as general contractor.

Study Reveals College Student Homelessness and Hunger

Lending urgency to Los Angeles County’s sweeping plan for addressing homelessness, the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) revealed a survey of its students that found more than half were unsure about having a steady place to live, while one in five experienced homelessness in the past year.

“Education is the great equalizer in our society, and we must do all that we can to ensure the students in the LACCD system are able to undertake their studies without worrying about having a roof over their heads or enough food to eat,” County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas said during a press conference at LA Trade-Technical College (LATTC).

Almost 6,000 of LACCD’s 134,000 students took the Survey on Food & Housing Insecurity. Among the findings: 18.6 percent of respondents experienced homelessness during 2016, while 55 percent struggled to pay their rent or mortgage and utility bills, and/or had to endure substandard housing conditions in unstable neighborhoods. Meanwhile, 62.7 percent of respondents reported not having enough to eat.

Board Chairman Ridley-Thomas Applauds Myriah Smiley for her resilience

Myriah Smiley, a 19-year-old former foster youth experiencing homelessness in Compton, is studying at LATTC in hopes of starting her own small business someday. She is staying at a friend’s house while awaiting public housing, and occasionally goes hungry. “It’s hard, but I’m still going,” she said.

LACCD Board of Trustees President Scott Svonkin and Trustee Mike Eng said the district would make it easier for students to access on-campus and community resources that would help them secure housing, financial, healthcare and other assistance. The district also plans to let homeless students use on-campus shower facilities and other amenities, and to train faculty, staff and administrators to be more aware of their homeless students’ needs.

Board President Svonkin said, “LACCD has a responsibility to not only educate its students but to ensure that our students are in the best possible position to receive quality education without being hungry in our classrooms.” Trustee Eng added, “By acting on the recommendations contained in the report, we can ensure that our students have the opportunity to succeed without the burden of food insecurity and the stress of homelessness.”

Los Angeles County’s $30-billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 factors in $260 million in revenue from voter-approved Measure H, a ballot measure to fund services and housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The strategy is laid out in the County’s Homeless Initiative website.

Officials of LA County, LACCD and the LA Homeless Services Authority pledge action on homelessness

Los Angeles County Contends with Surge in Homelessness

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas sat down with Charter Local Edition host Brad Pomerance to discuss the crisis of homelessness, the County’s plan to address it, and the issue of Cannabis Commerce in the County.

“Los Angeles is the epicenter of homelessness in the nation,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas.

The most recent 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found Los Angeles County’s homeless population increased 23 percent over the past year to 57,794 —underscoring the urgency of the crisis and the need for action.

In its first five years, Measure H aims to help 45,000 families and individuals escape homelessness and to enable 30,000 others to remain housed. In March 2017, County voters approved Measure H by 69.34%, creating a ¼-cent sales tax to combat homelessness. The board recently approved a wide-ranging set of recommendations by a 50-member panel to put Measure H funds to work for the County’s homeless citizens. This landmark funding plan commits nearly $259 million to fight homelessness in the next fiscal year—and tentatively earmarks more than $1 billion to the effort over the next three fiscal years.

Supervisors Approve $1 Billion Plan to Fight Homelessness

On the heels of an unprecedented commitment to a public planning process, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a wide-ranging set of recommendations to put voter-approved Measure H funds to work for the county’s homeless citizens.

Photo by Bryan Chan / Board of Supervisors

Photo by Bryan Chan / Board of Supervisors

“Today is another historic day in the County of LA that highlights the energy and community collaboration being invested into the question of homelessness,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas.

A 50-member planning group composed of individuals from diverse backgrounds convened to develop funding recommendations for the first three years of Measure H revenue. After five public meetings, the planning group, composed of County government staff, as well as formerly homeless individuals, technical experts, nonprofit service providers, and leaders of the faith, business and philanthropic communities reached a consensus.

Over sixty organizations signed a letter to the Board of Supervisors in support of the open planning process and next step to allocate funding to homeless services. 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.recommendations

This landmark funding plan commits nearly $259 million to combat homelessness in the next fiscal year—and tentatively earmarks more than $1 billion to the effort over the next three fiscal years.

In its first five years, Measure H aims to help 45,000 families and individuals escape homelessness and to enable 30,000 others to stay housed. The ¼-cent sales tax was approved by 69.34% of County voters in March 2017. The expanded funding comes as the latest Homeless Count found a 23% increase in homelessness in L.A. County over the past year, now nearly 58,000—underscoring the urgency of the crisis and need for action.

“The data is daunting, but we’re prepared. We have a plan. We’re motivated. And we’re moving forward on time to deliver services that our most vulnerable homeless residents need and deserve,” said Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Photo by Bryan Chan / Board of Supervisors

Photo by Bryan Chan / Board of Supervisors

Chairman Ridley-Thomas introduced a unanimously approved motion to closely track data and measure progress on measure H goals every six months. To that end, a five-member Citizens’ Oversight Advisory Board will also be reviewing expenditures twice a year and publishing an annual accounting.

For more information on the County’s groundbreaking Homeless Initiative, go to http://homeless.lacounty.gov/.