Hilton Philanthropy Honored

Steve Hilton (1)Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas lauded Supervisor Sheila Kuehl for recognizing Steven M. Hilton for his philanthropy as leader of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.


“Thank you, Supervisor Kuehl, for allowing me to join you in recognizing Steve Hilton today. On behalf of the Second District, I would like to add my gratitude to Steve Hilton.

“The Second District has been fortunate to partner with the Hilton Foundation on several occasions over the last few years.

“Back in 2012, my office provided the seed money for the County’s Department of Health (DHS) Services Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool that triggered the Hilton matching dollars for the initial investment.

“Hilton’s bold investment, coupled with Second District discretionary funds, laid the foundation for the DHS’ Housing for Health Division.

“Los Angeles County now provides $5 million a year towards the Flexible Housing Subsidy, and the DHS Housing for Health Division has housed 1,300 people.

“Steve has also been an early supporter of the Pay for Success pilot initiative that the County is finally preparing to launch.

“Pay for Success targets about-to-be-released inmates at risk of homelessness, and shows that we can dramatically reduce rates of recidivism by providing targeted supportive services. This type of innovative approach laid the foundation of our County’s broader diversion initiative.

“Even though he is stepping down as President and CEO, he will remain as Chairman of the Foundation.

“If we are to make a dent, it will take all of us – public, private and community – working together. The good news is that we can count on the Hilton Foundation to do that.

“Steve, I am grateful for your steadfast, inspiring and innovative leadership, and I wish you Godspeed as you travel around the world and embark on this new journey. I hear you are writing a book that describes your experiences in philanthropy – I look forward to reading it.”


Preparing for El Niño

As the sun grilled officials on the steps of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas urged residents to use the opportunity to prepare for upcoming storms.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas was joined by Assessor Jeffrey Prang, Fire Chief Daryl Osby, Insurance Commissioners, the Office of Emergency Management, and the Department of Public Works to outline services being provided by the county to help residents prepare for the storm system known as El Niño.

“We are asking our citizens to partner with us to insure they are properly trained and prepared for a potential disaster or flood or the impact of El Nino,” Fire Chief Osby said.

Eric Bauman, a commissioner serving on the Los Angeles County Insurance Commission provided residents with ten tips for preparing for adequate flood insurance.

“This year with the onset of El Niño we thought it was very important that consumers knew how to prepare and how to understand what their insurance does and doesn’t provide them in terms of protection in the event they have damage from El Niño,” said Bauman.

According to the National Flood Insurance program, just two inches of flood water in a home can cost an average of $12,000 to clean as the water subsides.

The preparation by the county included its recent activation of its Emergency Operations Center to support County and local jurisdictions, agencies and community organizations preparing for and responding to the winter’s storms wrought by El Niño.

The County has also opened additional winter shelters, including one with 207 beds at Athens Park on 12603 S. Broadway in Los Angeles, and 100 beds in Del Aire at 12601 S. Isis Avenue in Hawthorne. Meanwhile, Sheriff’s deputies and other workers have been deployed to warn those staying in homeless encampments along riverbanks about heightened flood risks, while firefighters and other emergency personnel have evacuated some homes near burn areas because of landslide danger.

“This is part of a comprehensive county plan to combat homelessness, to rescue those individuals who are currently defined by such circumstances, and to move preventively to cause others not to fall into such tragic circumstances,” the Supervisor said.

Los Angeles County residents and businesses, including persons with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, may call 211 LA County for emergency preparedness information, and other referral services. They can also click on http://www.lacounty.gov/elnino to sign up for emergency notifications, download survival guides, report hazards, and even learn how to apply for disaster loans.

  Get Prepared Now

Photo Credit: LA County FIre Department

Board Approves Homeless Initiative

From hopelessness to hope—four stories from Los Angeles County Annual Report on Vimeo.

In a historic vote, the Board of Supervisors approved the most comprehensive, collaborative and far-reaching action plan ever to be undertaken to address the crisis of homelessness in Los Angeles County.

With more than 44,000 men, women and children living on the streets or in temporary shelters on any given night, the County Homeless Initiative laid out 47 strategies that aim to:

  • Prevent homelessness
  • Subsidize housing costs
  • Increase income
  • Provide case management and services
  • Create a coordinated system
  • Increase affordable housing.

IMG_1883A motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, also approved by the Board, underscored the need to allocate funding on the basis of need. About a third of the County’s homeless population live in the Second District.

“This motion reaffirms Board policy for the last three years that homeless investments should be needs-based,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

“The gravity of the crisis is profound and if we fail to act now, the problem will be compounded,” he added. “Urgency has to be the mantra of the day.”

IMG_1873The Board created the Homeless Initiative in August 2015 with a mandate to produce a set of strategies that would not only provide the homeless with housing and other services, but also prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. It convened 18 meetings, or policy summits, involving scores of experts, public and private stakeholders and community partners throughout the 88 cities that make up the County.

“It is imperative that we continue to have leadership at the helm, with the full backing of the County, steering us towards our ultimate goal: a community where homelessness is rare and brief,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Now we must turn our attention to how we sustain our efforts – through ongoing revenue streams – in the fight against homelessness.” Click here for full text of his remarks.

IMG_1836About a dozen of the Homeless Initiative strategies are to be implemented by June 30, or Phase 1, including enhancing the emergency shelter system and expanding rapid-rehousing programs.

Implementation of Phase 2 is to begin in the second half of 2016, while Phase 3 will kick off in 2017.

Aside from stressing that funding should be needs-based, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ motion sought to strength partnerships with faith organizations wanting to help the homeless, accelerate the development of affordable and permanent supportive housing by using prefab construction techniques; and other recommendations. image2

Transforming Tiki Apartments

IMG_1753What used to be a seedy motel in Walnut Park is being transformed into an $11.6-million permanent supportive housing community for homeless adults with special needs.

At the groundbreaking ceremony for Tiki Apartments, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas declared, “It brings me great joy to bear witness to the transformation of this site into state-of-the-art affordable housing.”

IMG_1758“I can think of no better use for this property as I believe there is no more critical, urgent or moral issue that requires our collective attention than the homeless crisis,” he added.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ office set aside $500,000 of Los Angeles County’s Homeless Prevention Initiative funds for the project being built on the site of the former Tiki Motel, which appeared in the blockbuster movie The Terminator.

Once construction is completed in December, Tiki Apartments will have 35 affordable rental units for homeless adults with special needs who had been heavily dependent on medical care provided by the County Department of Health Services (DHS).

As tenants, they would be eligible for supportive services that should help them attain greater levels of 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.

IMG_1759The development will also include amenities such as a courtyard, outdoor fitness area, on-site laundry and gardening plots, all intended to promote wellness, self-sufficiency and community.

It is Meta Housing Corp.’s eighth project in the Second District, with four additional deals pending.

“With the support of Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and the County’s Community Development Commission and DHS, we are going to create 35 new units at Tiki Apartments that will move people off of the streets and into permanent supportive housing,” Meta Housing project manager Brian “Ross” Ferrera said. “This is a much more efficient use of County resources, as it would permanently house these residents in safe and comfortable housing and stop the cycle of going in and out of emergency rooms and temporary shelters.”

Meta Housing President Kasey Burke added, “The need for permanent supportive housing is greater than ever and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and the County of Los Angeles are showing tremendous leadership to help tackle this problem and provide the necessary resources to house our most needy population.”

John Stewart Company has been tapped to manage Tiki Apartments, while DHS will partner with the nonprofit Western Community Housing, Inc. to provide supportive services.

Also present at the groundbreaking ceremony were Community Development Commission Executive Director Sean Rogan, DHS’s Housing for Health Program Director Marc Trotz and Western Community Housing, Inc. President Graham Espley-Jones.

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Venturing into Skid Row for the Homeless Count

Vowing to address what he called the “defining civil rights issue of our time,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas ventured into Skid Row on the final night of the 2016 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count to help estimate the number of people living on the streets or in temporary shelters.

“We are faced with a homeless crisis that is the product of decades of structural deficits in affordable housing, employment and community investment,” he said in a press conference at the Los Angeles Mission before canvassing a three-block neighborhood dotted with makeshift tents. “We can’t give up on this fight – we can’t and we won’t.”

During this year’s Count, more than 7,500 volunteers canvassed almost 2,000 census tracts spanning about 95 percent of Los Angeles County over two nights and a day. Conducted by the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), it is the most exhaustive survey of the local homeless population – second only to the US Census in size and scope.

The Count provides an estimate of the number of people staying in emergency shelters and transitional housing, as well as those living in places not meant for human habitation, such as vehicles, parks, sidewalks and abandoned buildings.  The data is used to develop a better understanding of the demographics and needs of the homeless population, and to secure funding that would help them secure permanent housing and support services.

“It’s the human spirit inside of us that says, ‘Let’s help our brothers and sisters out,'” said Supervisor Hilda Solis, who also volunteered for the Count along with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

Last year’s Count estimated the homeless population countywide at 41,174 – a 12 percent increase from 2013. Skid Row alone accounts for almost 4,000, and 2,500 of them live within the boundaries of the Second District.

Altogether, one in three homeless persons throughout Los Angeles County can be found in the Second District.

“We must and we will confront this issue head-on if we are to make any inroads,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “I am morally outraged by the statistics – that is why I feel such a sense of urgency.”

He has taken a three-pronged approach to addressing homelessness:

  • Building strong and coordinated crisis response systems that are comprehensive, inclusive and evidence-informed
  • Creating affordable housing with, if necessary, supportive services such as mental health and substance abuse treatment, and job training and placement, in partnership with community-based organizations
  • Increasing access to income by raising wages and spurring economic development that creates jobs easily accessible through public transit

Last summer, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Solis to fund and create four outreach teams just for Skid Row. Composed of County health professionals, LAHSA outreach workers and formerly homeless persons, the teams try to connect the homeless to County-funded medical, mental health and substance use services and supportive housing.

The County is also funding rapid rehousing subsidies and services for homeless persons who can be connected to employment or other sources of income and become stable after a shorter period of assistance. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ office has also dedicated funds for homeless women on Skid Row, to ensure they are taken off the streets and out of harm’s way as quickly as possible, and into stable housing.

The County is in the midst of preparing a comprehensive plan for addressing the crisis of homelessness, and recently held public hearings to solicit community input.