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A Historic Changing of the Guard

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors: (L-R) Sheila Kuehl, HIlda Solis, Janice Hahn, Kathryn Barger and Mark Ridley-Thomas

With its newly elected members, Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger, sworn into office, the Board of Supervisors marks a turning point in the leadership of Los Angeles County.

For the first time since the Board was founded in 1852, four of its five members are women, and its chairman is African American.

“It is my honor to be a part of this newly reconstituted Board,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the Second District. “I have no doubt this Board will represent the people of Los Angeles County in an extraordinary way.”

The Board also includes Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl, who represent the First and Third Districts, respectively.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said the Board would tackle the crisis of homelessness gripping the County and a host of other issues, including immigration; environmental stewardship; the protection of women and girls; the rights of the incarcerated; and services for foster youth. “There’s no shortage of work, no shortage of leadership, and I’m ready to get to it,” he said.

bcb_3137-2Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn vowed to honor the legacy of her father, the late Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, who represented the Second District for 40 years, from 1952 to 1992. The Hall of Administration, seat of county government, bears his name.

“I will bring the same passion for service that he did everyday,” she promised after being sworn in by her brother, Superior Court Judge and former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn.

Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger took the oath of office administered by her predecessor, Michael Antonovich, who served for 36 years, starting in 1980. “All of our communities deserve an open door to their county government – and to know that the county government is committed to working for them,” she said. “I am also committed to working with everyone – those within the county, and those who partner with the county – in a cooperative, solution-driven manner that places people and problem-solving above all else.”

One of the first acts of the newly reconstituted Board will be to consider declaring an emergency on homelessness, and placing a measure on the March 7 ballot that would help fund solutions to the crisis. Both votes are scheduled the day after the swearing-in ceremonies.

barger-antonovich-swearing-inIn their joint motion to declare an emergency, Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Barger wrote, “The County of Los Angeles is facing a grave public emergency, the pervasive and deepening homeless crisis, which currently endangers the health and safety of tens of thousands of residents, including veterans, women, children, LGBTQ youth, persons with disabilities and seniors.”

They added, “The tremendous scale of homelessness in the County threatens the economic stability of the region by burdening emergency medical services and the social services infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, in a separate motion, Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Hahn called for placing a ballot initiative before voters on March 7 that would provide an estimated $355 million in annual funding to address the crisis.

 

Community Organization Finds Funding

From Culver City to From Culver City to Carson, Lynwood to Ladera Heights, leaders of nonprofit organizations serving residents in South Los Angeles attended a series of free leadership workshops. With the goal of helping non-profit organizations achieve greater sustainability, programmatic effectiveness, and financial strength, the seven-month training was designed to help participating groups strengthen and expand their capacity to serve their constituents. Founders, executive directors and other leaders of nonprofit organizations expressed appreciation after going through the program.

IMG_1396One participant, Melissa Wyatt, Executive Director of Foundation for Second Chances attended and credits the workshop for the recently awarded three-year $1.1M contract from the Department of Labor for a Youth Build program.

“I truly appreciate the Second District Capacity Building and Leadership Development Program,” Wyatt said. “The workshop was so inspiring and motivating that I knocked the budget and compliance part out of the park.”

Foundation for Second Chances is a community-based organization, which utilizes hands-on education, mentoring, health awareness and community service to maximize the potential of youth.

The Second District Capacity Building and Leadership Development Program is supported by a collaborative partnership between Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the California Community Foundation, the Empowerment Congress, and Community Partners. The program provided training and resources to help with fundraising, board effectiveness, civic engagement and financial accountability.

“Nonprofits have to be prepared to transition – there’s nothing to celebrate about doing things the way they always have been done,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas told participants at the culmination of the program. “Innovation coupled with accountability is fundamentally key to success of our human services infrastructure.”

Nancy Harris, executive director of Holman Community Development Corp., which helps with youth employment, and job readiness training, housing and education, said, “Our nonprofit is at an interesting stage where we need to take it to the next level. This process that we went through at the Supervisor’s lead has really helped me clearly see what our next level is.”
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CBS: Searching for solutions in America’s No. 1 state for homelessness


Homelessness is rising in California, in part because housing costs and rents have skyrocketed. Nearly 120,000 people are now homeless in the state. Sixty-six percent of them live on the street, the highest rate of people without shelter in the country.

“You cannot convince me on any day of the week that this is the way that people should have to live,” said Mark Ridley-Thomas, a Los Angeles County supervisor.

Tents now line streets all over Los Angeles, so Ridley-Thomas wants Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency, using funds for natural disasters, to address homelessness.

[From CBSNews.com. Read more here.]

Fighting Hate Crimes

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Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in Support of Board Chair Hilda Solis’ Motion Addressing Hate Crimes

“According to the Commission on Human Relations’ most recent hate crimes report, the number of hate crimes reported in Los Angeles County rose 24 percent from 2014 to 2015, breaking a seven-year general downward trend. The number of hate crimes statewide also increased – by 10 percent in 2015.

“The rise in hate crimes was across all the major categories — not just race, ethnicity, national origin, but also sexual orientation, religion and gender identity.

“Los Angeles experienced the highest rate of violence for homophobic crimes since 2003. African-Americans were grossly over-represented as victims, even in hate crimes that were not motivated by race. Disturbingly, many hate crimes in 2015 occurred in public places – on public transportation, on the sidewalk, and in plain view of others.

“We know that after triggering events, there is an increase in hate crimes and incidents. For example, anti-Muslim crimes increased after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Four such crimes were reported after the Paris attacks on Nov. 13. Nine followed the Dec. 2 mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.

“The November 8th election is turning out to be another triggering event. This board has stood up to hate on several occasions – most recently the May 2016 motion supporting the ban on travel for county business to North Carolina until HB2 is lifted and the December 2015 motion on violence and acts of hate.

“We will continue to say ‘not on my watch’ when it comes to acts of hate.

“I support this motion, I thank the Chair for putting a spotlight on this issue and l look forward to hearing back from the departments.”

From Homeless to Home

Los Angeles County’s public housing program recently leased its first family unit through its initiative for homeless families. Crystal Beacham has been one of Los Angeles County’s 47,000 homeless residents since 2015. A single mother of two young boys, she found herself living at a shelter operated by the Watts Labor Community Action Committee. Due to funding constraints, the shelter closed in September 2016 leaving Beacham with few available housing options for her family. While at the shelter, Beacham learned about the County’s Public Housing Program and its initiative for homeless families.

On September 16, Beacham and her two boys received a referral for permanent housing at the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles’ (HACoLA) South Scattered Sites. Through the collaborative efforts of HACoLA and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), Beacham was leased into a two-bedroom public housing unit on October 24, 2016.

“We need to put homeless families first,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has been a leader in the fight against homelessness having helped build over 2,000 affordable housing units in the Second District since 2009.

HACoLA has historically given priority to homeless families, Veterans, and victims of domestic violence seeking placement in public housing. On July 1, 2016, HACoLA’s Public Housing Program implemented a new initiative as an additional means of addressing the area’s homeless crisis. As South Scattered Sites Public Housing units become available, they are now offered to a homeless family first.

“HACoLA prides itself in being forward thinking, and using all available resources to ensure that families, like Beacham’s, have a safe and suitable home,” Sean Rogan, HACoLA Executive Director said.

WLCAC Case Worker Nicole Floyd describes Beacham as a person who does not let hard times put her down. Floyd says Beacham would cheer up other women in the shelter by doing their hair. Floyd will provide two years of continued case management services to Beacham, to ensure she thrives in her new permanent living environment.  Through the Public Housing Program’s homeless initiative, HACoLA continues its mission of “Building Better Lives and Better Neighborhoods.”

“It took a village of resources, to provide a stable living environment to the Beacham family, and HACoLA is proud to have been part of that effort,” says Floyd.

“I plan to cook a Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy it with my kids,” Beacham said.