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Supervisor Hails Assembly Approval of HR 56 Urging Governor to Declare Statewide State of Emergency on Homelessness

Responding to a call by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the California Assembly voted overwhelmingly to urge Governor Jerry Brown to declare a statewide state of emergency on homelessness.

House Resolution 56, whose lead authors were Assembly Majority Whip Miguel Santiago and Assembly Budget Chairman Phil Ting, won more than 50 votes. Fewer than a dozen legislators opposed it.

“The California Assembly now stands alongside the Board of Supervisors, as well as more than 13,000 people – and counting – who have signed a petition seeking a statewide emergency declaration from our Governor,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “We must seize this momentum to act on homelessness, the defining civil rights issue of our time.”

Testifying at the state Capitol, Assemblymember Ting said, “Today we are saying we can no longer do this by ourselves, city to city. We as a state need to come together, work together, to find a solution.”

“Homelessness affects every community in California, and it should impact the conscience of every (Assembly) member and of every Californian,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said. “We didn’t get to this point in a matter of days, and we won’t resolve the problem in a matter of days either. This resolution, however, helps to instill a sense of urgency.”

Assemblymember and former Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins said, “I believe very much in this resolution today, but I believe it is absolutely up to us to make it happen.” She added state lawmakers need political will “to figure out how we’re going to follow up on this resolution with action.”

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this month to ask both the California Assembly and Senate to seek a statewide emergency declaration from the governor. In the motion, co-authors Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl urged that the declaration include access to $500 million from the State Fund for Economic Uncertainties to implement statewide re-housing efforts, including street engagement, service triage, crisis housing, permanent housing navigation, rental subsidies and case management.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas traveled to Sacramento on behalf of the Board to witness the vote on HR 56 – his fifth visit to the state Capitol in as many weeks to rally support for addressing homelessness.

Assemblymember Philip Chiu, who chairs the Assembly’s Housing and Community Development Committee, emphasized the severity of the crisis. “While California has only 12 percent of our country’s population, we have 20 percent of our country’s homeless,” he said.

“Skid Row in Los Angeles is now everywhere – in the north San Fernando Valley, the Antelope Valley, the south Los Angeles coastal areas, on the gateway cities going into Orange County, in the east County,” added Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas. “HR 56 seems to me to be an appropriate way to goad the administration, to encourage the Governor’s continued focus on services with housing.”

Supervisor Backs Assembly Resolution Urging State of Emergency on Homelessness

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas hailed a proposed California Assembly resolution urging Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency on homelessness.

House Resolution 56, authored by Assembly Majority Whip Miguel Santiago and Assembly Budget Chairman Phil Ting, is poised for a vote Thursday.

“I want to commend the state Assembly for answering our call to take the homelessness crisis right to the governor,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “The time for action is now, and it’s time for leadership to prevail if we are to succeed in addressing the most compelling social issue confronting Californians.”

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, acting on a motion by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl, voted unanimously this month to ask both the state Assembly and Senate to seek an emergency declaration from the governor.

Assemblymembers Santiago and Ting responded with House Resolution 56, which states, “Homelessness has risen to historic levels throughout the state, and now is the time for state action.”

“California is too prosperous a state for so many to suffer from homelessness,” said Assemblymember Santiago, whose district includes Skid Row.  “We will not end their suffering until we think differently and commit to action, as an emergency requires.”

“We need a statewide solution to help people get into housing and services rather than have each city go it alone,” added Assemblymember Ting, who represents San Francisco.

On behalf of the Board, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas will travel to Sacramento for the vote on H.R. 56 – his fifth visit to the state Capitol in as many weeks to rally support for addressing what he has called the “defining civil rights issue of our time.”

One out of every five homeless people in the US lives in California, and Los Angeles County alone accounts for 47,000 of the state’s homeless population of 115,000.

10,000+ Voices in the #Fight4Homeless

In just one week’s time, over 10,000 Californians signed a petition calling on Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in California, due to the pervasive and deepening homelessness crisis. The letter with 11,370 signatures was delivered to the Governor on Monday evening. The petition’s comments resonate with compassion, frustration, idealism and moral indignation. Supporters’ reasons for signing the petition are as varied as California itself. To scroll through the hundreds of comments posted is to encounter those who are currently or formerly homeless, or desperately worried about loved ones and fellow human beings living without a roof over their heads. Some say they’re frightened, heartbroken, moved to action or overwhelmed by what they see around them in their communities. They all agree– enough is enough.

On any given night in Los Angeles County, there are nearly 47,000 homeless people, including 6,000 parents and their children. Nearly two-thirds live in the City of Los Angeles. Statewide, there are more than 115,000 homeless people – 21% of the entire nation’s homeless population.

From Compton to Coronado, Santa Fe Springs to San Francisco, Long Beach to Lompoc, more than 10,000 people in Los Angeles County and throughout the state realize there is a crisis of homelessness. The Board of Supervisors, acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl, voted unanimously to urge the governor to declare a state of emergency.

“I’d like to invite him (Gov. Brown) down to Los Angeles,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas in an interview with the LA Times while visiting Sacramento this week, his fourth trip in four weeks regarding homelessness.

The Board of Supervisors is seeking a resolution from the Assembly and Senate urging the governor to take action.

“I strongly believe that we have a historic opportunity to act now,” said the Supervisor in a letter to the governor following his second trip to Sacramento. “I again invite you to tour with me..” he said in a follow up letter June 23.

“Join me on social media,” said the Supervisor. “Tell the governor who you are, and invite him to see homelessness for himself.”

L.A. County residents from various professions have responded and invited the governor for a firsthand look at the crisis.

“Governor, I’m a surgical technician. We need to work some surgery on homelessness. Visit LA and see for yourself,” wrote one resident on Facebook.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas voiced the urgency on behalf of thousands of Californians. Here are some voices in the conversation. Some of the comments have been condensed.

“Governor, I’m a surgical technician. We need to work some surgery on homelessness.  Visit LA and see for yourself,” wrote one resident on Facebook.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas voiced the urgency on behalf of thousands of Californians. Here are some voices in the conversation. Some of the comments have been condensed.

“I’m signing this because I am my brother’s keeper.”

Ricardo Hernandez, West Covina, CA

“Everyone should have a home.”
Penelope Tafoya, Sacramento, CA

“This is absolutely shameful. The homelessness crisis is a disgrace to our supposedly advanced society…It’s EVERYBODY’S problem.”
Laura Sakoi, Sacramento, CA

“Humans help humans.”
Gilbert Medina, Montebello, CA

“I believe in saving lives.”
Dorothy Edwards, Pasadena, CA

“My faith, Judaism, requires me to do so.”

Jonathan Klein, Los Angeles, CA

“Having a home is everyone’s God-given right.”
Ann Dufour, Sacramento, CA

“It’s too much, dude, it’s just too much. People need places to live.”
Rosemarie Grantham, San Jose, CA

“I’m signing this because WE ARE THE CHANGE.”
Ruby Roxana Escobar, Los Angeles, CA

“I feel like I take my life in my hands every time I walk down the street in Hollywood. There are too many mentally ill homeless here…I have a young child, and I hate having her exposed to this.”
Lynne Felderman, Hollywood, CA

“This is disgraceful that we can’t do better. We are smarter and kinder than this.”

Kathryn Proctor, Encino, CA

“I have a homeless granddaughter with 2 little girls, ages 9 months and 2 years.”
Cylinda King, Compton, CA

“Kids need a home.”
Alex Mejia, Los Angeles, CA

“Los Angeles is big enough to house everyone.”
Rebecca Gray, Glendale, CA

“I’ve never felt so overwhelmed and so disgusted that one of the biggest economies on earth can allow this to happen to its citizens.”
Sandra Bonaparte, South Pasadena, CA

“No one should be homeless in this great land of wealth.”

Mayisha Akbar, Compton, CA

“I have seen the homeless crisis grow and change in San Francisco, and I have seen its impact on the elderly, the disabled, children, and people of color.”
Jessica Gibbs, San Francisco, CA

“I could be next.”
Talitha James, Los Angeles, CA

“I am human.”
Lois Blomdal, Compton, CA

“If brotherly love doesn’t move you, consider the tax dollar savings.”
Jed Pauker, Venice, CA

“How can we accept that this situation is occurring in America?”

Bettina Gantsweg, Marina del Rey, CA

“Being homeless is cruel and unusual punishment.”
Marylouise Oates, Los Angeles, CA

“I am lucky to have a home but there are so many innocent people who do not. Please help our most vulnerable and by doing so, raise us all up.”
Sharon Sekhon, Los Angeles, CA

“Homelessness can happen to anyone—you and me included.”
Veronica Perez, Los Angeles, CA

“I have been homeless.”
Kecia Oakley, Vacaville, CA

“Homelessness is a crime against humanity.”

Christopher Bratten, West Hollywood, CA

“Homelessness is a killer. People are dying in the streets.”
Christina Miller, Canoga Park, CA

“Because enough is enough! It’s time to stop putting band aids on this problem and provide the resources for a real solution.”
Sandi Cook, Los Angeles, CA

“When I see a person experiencing homelessness, I wonder what contribution, talent or skill that the world is missing out on.”
Leticia Colchado, West Covina, CA

“Because we never know what tomorrow brings us.”
Nazaret Ramirez, Los Angeles, CA

Advocating for Homeless Funding

A beggar in the streets of Madrid, holding a cup for donation from passers-by.As the Board of Supervisors gave final approval to Los Angeles County’s $28.7-billion budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas advocated for ongoing funding to address the crisis of homelessness.

“I am pleased to see that funding for many of the Board’s priorities is reflected in this budget recommendation,” he said, citing $100 million set aside for the County’s Homeless Initiative programs.

“These resources are merely one-time in nature, however, so I am hopeful that we will be successful in our efforts to identify a sustainable funding source,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added. “I am concerned that if we do not identify a funding mechanism to address this in an ongoing manner, the crisis will worsen and have negative impacts on our budget because of the significant costs in the areas of health, public safety, and other areas.”

Noting 115,000 people are homeless in California – accounting for 21 percent of the nation’s homeless population – Supervisor Ridley-Thomas urged the public to sign a petition urging Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has also been urging state Legislators in Sacramento to let county voters impose a special half-percent tax on personal income above $1 million a year to fund programs for the homeless. According to a recent poll, 76 percent of likely voters would support such a ballot initiative, which would raise $243 million a year. The amount is about half of what the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said was needed annually to address the crisis.

Los Angeles County’s own homeless population is estimated at 47,000. The Board set aside $100 million to pay for subsizied housing, rapid rehousing, transitional housing for those exiting prison and other institutions, as well as many other services recommended by the Homeless Initiative. The amount is on top of money already being spent by various County departments to help the homeless.

“This balanced budget, while providing essential funding for services across the County, aggressively supports the Board’s agenda for transformative change in four key areas –homelessness, child protection, Sheriff’s Department reforms and the integration of our County health agencies,” said County CEO Sachi Hamai. “There are always competing demands for County dollars, and I believe this budget honors not only the Board’s longstanding commitment to fiscal responsibility but also to lifting the quality of life for all our residents.”

Aside from seeking to address the crisis of homelessness, the budget also advances the County’s commitment to protect vulnerable children, ensure constitutional policing in the jails, strengthen wage enforcement, and combat human trafficking.

Metro Transit Plan To Ballot

On Thursday, The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved the updated Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan for placement on the upcoming November ballot. The sales tax measure calls for a sustained funding approach that, if approved by the voters, would accelerate and pay for a wide variety of transit and highway projects, roadway improvements and pedestrian and bike paths.

“Today’s action paves the way towards building and sustaining a world-class, 21st Century transportation system here in Los Angeles County to accommodate the region’s growing needs,” said Metro Board Chair and County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “The placement of this important measure before the voters in November is a giant step in order to improve mobility, create jobs and improve the quality of life for all of L.A. County.”

“This plan includes hundreds of local and regional capital improvement projects,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “But this plan goes far beyond building and delivering projects. It includes operating and maintaining the system we build, developing new services that meet
the shifting needs of our region and it creates a smarter system that takes full advantage of the technology that is out there today and technology of the future that has yet to be developed.”

The Board also adopted an ordinance that included the expenditure plan that will implement the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan through a transportation sales tax measure and also adopted a resolution requesting that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors place the ordinance on the ballot with specific ballot language for the November 8, 2016,
countywide general election. The Board also approved a Metro staff recommendation to add $10.9 million to fund election related and public information activities.

The new Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan is available at www.metro.net/theplan.