Remarks by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas On Measure H Post-Election Tally Surge

Photo by Brian Chan/Board of Supervisors

Photo by Brian Chan/Board of Supervisors

“This simply reaffirms what we witnessed on Tuesday night, that LA county is ready to tackle the crisis of homelessness,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, following the release today of the latest vote totals for Measure H, indicating that support inched higher to 67.62 percent during a post-election tally of mail-in ballots. “Long after the polls closed, voters continue to tell us it’s time to do what’s right.”

Tiki Aparments Grand Opening

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Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors

The squalid motel in the blockbuster movie The Terminator has been transformed into an $11.6-million permanent supportive housing community for homeless adults with special needs, complete with wraparound services and various amenities.

Tiki Apartments in Florence-Firestone now has 35 affordable rental units for homeless adults heavily dependent on medical care. “I am very grateful, said one of the new tenants, who gave his name as Al. “Being here gives me hope that things will get better. My health is my struggle and I am paralyzed. This gives me hope that I can live a long life.”

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Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors

Facilitated by Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County invested $500,000 of its Homeless Prevention Initiative funds for the project. “I can think of no better use for this property than housing for the homeless,” he said during the grand opening celebration. “There is no more urgent an issue that tugs on our collective conscience than the homeless crisis.”

Tenants at Tiki Apartments will receive supportive services intended to help them attain greater stability, independence and economic security. This includes case management, mental health care, primary and preventive health care, substance abuse treatment, and financial and life skills training provided by the County Department of Heath Services and its nonprofit partner, Western Community Housing.

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Welcoming a Tiki Apartments tenant to his new home. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors

“It’s a model that works, and one that must be duplicated,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “While we have much to celebrate today, we need more resources to ensure more of these projects come to fruition.”

Meta Housing Corp. is the co-owner and co-developer of the property, to be managed by John Stewart Co. Amenities include as a courtyard, outdoor fitness area, on-site laundry and gardening plots, all intended to promote wellness, self-sufficiency and community.

“At Meta Housing, our goal is always to provide high quality housing options that also fill a deep need in the local community, and the Tiki Apartments do just that,” Meta Housing president Kasey Burke said. “A blighted, vacant motel has been transformed into 36 permanent supportive units that will continue to serve the growing homeless population throughout LA.”

Meta Housing Senior Project Manager Brian “Ross” Ferrera added, “In addition to providing a safe and stable place for these homeless individuals to live, the Tiki Apartments also incorporate strong supportive services.

“These services promote wellness and self-sufficiency in order to provide residents with the tools to not only get off the streets, but to stay off the streets,” he added. “In all of our apartment communities, we want our residents to ultimately thrive and the recently completed Tiki Apartments is certainly no exception.”

 

Jacqueline Waggoner Appointed to LAHSA Board

Enterprise Southland Social 2015 at the Langham, Pasadena, CA.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas appointed Jacqueline Waggoner to the board of the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority (LAHSA). As vice president and Southern California market leader for Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., Waggoner has worked with local government, banks and nonprofit developers to create local funds for affordable housing, advocate for low-income families and create communities of opportunity with access to good schools, jobs, transit and health care.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said Waggoner’s wealth of experience will be an asset to LAHSA, the lead agency in the Los Angeles Continuum of Care, which coordinates and manages over $132 million annually in federal, state, county and city funds for programs that provide shelter, housing and services to the homeless. LAHSA also leads the Homeless Count, a point-in-time census of the homeless population.

“With Enterprise, Jacqueline Waggoner is already ‘deep in the trenches’ of helping vulnerable populations,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “We want to further tap her skill, as well as her compassion, to better serve the 47,000 souls who are homeless on any given night in Los Angeles County.”

Waggoner said the crisis of homelessness requires urgent and long-term solutions. “Homelessness used to only be concentrated in Skid Row, but now it’s dispersed throughout the county. And none of us should feel restful about that. I think that we are a more civil and humane society than to allow our fellow Angelenos to sleep on the streets.”

A Los Angeles native, Waggoner has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in urban planning from UCLA. Her experience in commercial real estate lending spans more than 20 years. Before joining Enterprise, she was vice president for Community Lending with Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles. Currently, she oversees Enterprise’s affordable housing, community development, investment and strategic programs from California’s Central Coast to San Diego.

She also sits on the boards of the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing, a membership organization that supports the production, preservation and management of affordable homes, and on the board of the Los Angeles Business Council, an education and advocacy organization working with businesses and government to promote environmental and economic sustainability.

Waggoner acknowledges the difficulty of taking on the crisis of homelessness but remains determined to put her values into action. “You have to be passionate about this work because we won’t solve this problem overnight,” she said. “I’m devoted to the mission of helping others. I feel like there’s no career, no success, unless you’re doing something to make the world a better place.”

Ensuring Collaboration and Accountability in Homeless Funding

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Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas hears testimony on his motion. All photos by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

With voters weighing Measure H on March 7, the Board of Supervisors kicked off a collaborative and transparent process for budgeting prospective funds from the ballot initiative so that experts, stakeholders and members of the public have an opportunity to participate in crafting a plan to end homelessness.

The Board unanimously approved a motion by Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl that establishes “an inclusive planning process which draws on the experience, expertise and wisdom of cities, homeless service providers and experts, the faith and business communities, formerly homeless individuals and County departments.”

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Chairman Ridley-Thomas said, “Our objective here is to evidence that we are serious about accountability, serious about transparency, and to be comprehensive as is committed in the ballot language.”

Supervisor Kuehl added, “We can only succeed if we have the input and support of the very civic and community leaders who are going to help us house the 47,000 people currently homeless in the County.” 

Measure H is expected to raise about $350 million every year for a decade to provide multidimensional services and housing assistance for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless. If approved by two-thirds of the voters, Measure H would generate funds to provide the homeless with, among other services:

• mental health and substance abuse treatments
• health care
• education and job training
• rental and housing subsidies
• case management and services
• emergency and affordable housing
• transportation
• outreach, prevention and supportive services for homeless children, families, foster youth, veterans, battered women, seniors, disabled individuals and other homeless adults.

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L-R: Phil Ansell, Homeless Initiative; Joseph Altepeter, Downtown Women’s Center; Eva Williams, CSH.

The services would be consistent with the County’s Homeless Initiative which developed 47 strategies for preventing and combatting homelessness after conducting 18 policy summits that brought together more than 1,000 experts and stakeholders.

Homeless Initiative director Phil Ansell vowed the budget planning process for Measure H would also be “inclusive, collaborative and transparent,” with meetings open to the public and subject to the Brown Act. 

“To ensure the funding is allocated as fairly and effectively as possible, it is vital that key stakeholders such as service providers, housing and homeless experts, County departments and individuals with lived homeless experiences, are engaged in the process,” Joseph Altepeter, director of vocational education and social enterprise at the Downtown Women’s Center, told the Board.

“It is only through a collaborative and coordinated approach that we will realize success in housing all of our homeless neighbors living throughout Los Angeles,” agreed Eva Williams, Los Angeles director of CSH, a nonprofit organization that helps vulnerable individuals and families.

To ensure accountability, the County Auditor Controller will have an independent auditor regularly report on Measure H spending. A Citizens’ Oversight Advisory Board will also publish a complete accounting of all allocations and submit periodic evaluations.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey, United Way of Greater Los Angeles President and CEO Elise Buik, Los Angeles Business Council president Mary Leslie, New Directions for Veterans President and CEO Yvette Kelley and Children’s Defense Fund-California Executive Director Alex Johnson signed the argument in favor of Measure H. There were no arguments submitted against Measure H. 

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Documenting the Crisis of Homelessness

Participating in the nation’s largest census of homeless people, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas walked the streets of Leimert Park and North Hollywood to observe firsthand what he has called the defining civic crisis of our time.

He joined an estimated 6,000 volunteers who spread out across 4,000 square miles over three bitterly cold nights to conduct the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count on January 24-26.

A homeless encampment in Leimert Park. (Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors)

A homeless encampment in Leimert Park. (Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors)

Talking to Homeless Count volunteers in Leimert Park (Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors)

Led by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), volunteers looked under bridges, in alleys, at makeshift encampments and other locations to find out where the homeless live. They also conducted demographic surveys to determine how many among the homeless are veterans, youth aging out of the foster care system, people with physical or mental disabilities, and other subgroups with special needs.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, along with Mayor Eric Garcetti, Controller Ron Galperin, LAHSA Executive Director Peter Lynn and Commission Chair Wendy Greuel, and LA Family Housing President & CEO Stephanie Klasky-Gamer kicked off the census in the San Fernando Valley, which has seen a tremendous increase in its homeless population.

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Participating in the Homeless Count at North Hollywood. (Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors)

Just before volunteers began the Count in North Hollywood, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas exhorted them to support Proposition H on the March 7 ballot. If approved by voters, the initiative would cost the average consumer little more than a dollar a month while investing $350 million annually over a decade on proven solutions for preventing and ending homelessness.

“Yes on H!” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas told volunteers. “Walk tonight, vote tomorrow.” He expressed particular concern over the 55 percent increase in the number of homeless women countywide between 2013 and 2016.

On the third and last day of the Count, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas again joined volunteers, this time in Leimert Park. He documented people living in tents and trailers, and under tarps hung on tree branches.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas participates in the 2017 Homeless Count in Leimert Park.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas participates in the 2017 Homeless Count in Leimert Park.

The Count will provide an accurate picture of the state of homelessness countywide, and guide the delivery of programs and services to where they are most needed. During the demographic surveys, outreach teams directly connected the homeless individuals and families that they encountered to local service providers for assistance.

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Walking with volunteers in Leimert Park to document the homeless. (Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors)

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