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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.

Fighting Against Repeal of the Affordable Care Act

Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas and several members of the board denounced a Trump Administration-backed Senate Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, warning it could strip more than one million Los Angeles County residents of their health insurance with devastating results.

Mounting opposition – including within the U.S. Capitol – has already prompted Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to delay a vote on the proposed legislation.

“We will not retreat. We will not relent. We will fight for the people of this County because healthcare is a right, not a privilege,” Board Chairman Ridley-Thomas said.

image6“This nation can do more for the uninsured. It is unconscionable to do less,” he added. “This bill would hurt the residents of our County by assaulting our safety net. Therefore, we have to do what is right as people of conscience and as people of purpose.”

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who led a press conference to oppose the Senate Republican bill, said, “The slogan for the proposed plan may as well be ‘Make America Sick Again.’”

“LA County will be especially hard hit, because during the Medicaid expansion, we pushed hard to enroll men and women who had previously been uninsured,” Supervisor Kuehl added. “We cut the rate of uninsured in the County by nearly 50 percent. If this terrible plan passes, Medicaid, as we know it, will be virtually gutted and LA County will be ground zero for the plan’s deadly consequences.”

Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn also spoke out against the Senate Republican bill, as did LA County’s Health Agency director, Dr. Mitch Katz; Public Health director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, and Mental Health Director, Dr. Jonathan Sherin.

image2Dr. Katz warned, “About 1.2 million people in LA County gained Medi-Cal coverage via the ACA, and the ACA brought the County’s Department of Health Services about $560 million of new revenue, which allowed us to expand the outpatient delivery system and modernize our infrastructure. The Senate Republican bill risks all these gains.”

The health officials also estimated 323,000 people in LA County could lose the subsidy that has enabled them to pay for their health insurance. Over the next several years, an estimated 4 million people, or nearly 40 percent of LA County residents – including 1.1 million children under age 19 – would be at risk of losing their health insurance and/or will have much greater difficulty accessing vital health care services.

A Congressional Budget Office analysis found the Senate Republican bill would result in 22 million more people nationwide that would be uninsured 10 years from now.

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The Force is On Its Way to Exposition Park

(Left to Right) Melody Hobson, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, George Lucas Martin Zamora / Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

(Left to Right) Mellody Hobson, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, George Lucas
Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

The force is with Los Angeles as the Lucas Museum for Narrative Art moves one step closer to making a $1.5 billion dream a reality.  The City Council voted unanimously to approve an environmental study allowing the museum’s construction to begin.

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas joined city leaders and young children from the EXPO Center on the  on the steps of City Hall to greet George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson.

“The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is a natural addition to the Exposition Park, the historical center of education, culture and sports for Los Angeles County,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas.

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be a one-of-a-kind gathering place to experience art and exhibitions dedicated to the power of storytelling across all media, including paintings, illustrations and moving images. The Lucas family will fully fund the Museum’s $1.2 billion construction, collection, and operating endowment with no cost to taxpayers to build the Museum.

_5MZ0590“The goal of the museum is to inspire people to think outside of the box and help build on the myths that hold our communities together,” said George Lucas.

The new museum is expected to create more than 3,660 construction-related jobs and more than 400 full-time jobs related to the operation of the Museum.  The construction jobs will pay family-supporting wages for local residents due to the Project Labor Agreement with the construction unions. The Museum will be located in Exposition Park along Vermont Boulevard bordering Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Jessie Brewer Park transforming 11 acres of asphalt into public green park and garden space with the Museum hovering above.

“There’s no better place than Los Angeles,” said Mellody Hobson. “We have world-class neighbors and world-class institutions in Exposition Park.”

The Museum will be located in the heart of the South Los Angeles surrounded by more than 100 K-12 schools. The Museum will feature public lectures and classes for all ages, hands-on workshops, after-school programs and camps, and a wide variety of additional educational opportunities.

Acting on a motion by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted last November to issue a resolution declaring Exposition Park as the ideal location for the Lucas Museum.

The Museum is expected to break ground as early as this year and open its doors in 2021.

 

 

 

 

Women Olympians Honored at Coliseum

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Posing with new plaques at the Coliseum in honor of two outstanding women Olympians. All photos by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors 

The images of two pioneering women Olympians have been enshrined on plaques at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum’s Court of Honor. Joan Benoit Samuelson, winner of the first women’s Olympic Marathon, and Anita L. DeFrantz, Olympic medalist for rowing and International Olympic Committee member, are only the second and third individual women athletes since 1932 to be memorialized this way.

“The Coliseum Court of Honor welcomes two extraordinary athletes who exemplify the Olympic spirit and paved the way for women to excel in sports at the highest level,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas during the ceremony, co-sponsored by his office. “We celebrate Joan Benoit Samuelson and Anita DeFrantz for their achievements as Olympians and as female role models.”

Pioneering Olympians Anita DeFrantz and Joan Benoit Samuelson are honored at the ceremony

Pioneering Olympians Anita DeFrantz and Joan Benoit Samuelson are honored at the ceremony

 

After unveiling the plaque, DeFrantz said, “We all know that women’s sport historically has been underreported. I’m thrilled that women’s accomplishments will be celebrated at the Coliseum with these plaques.”

Nearly 60 plaques have been installed at the Court of Honor since 1932. Until now, the only individual female athlete commemorated was Babe Didrikson, and her plaque was installed in 1961. LA84 Foundation President and CEO Renata Simril led the effort to bestow similar honors on both Samuelson and DeFrantz.

“Joan Benoit Samuelson and Anita DeFrantz showed girls across the world how a sporting dream can spring into reality, and inspire our work every day to keep closing the gender gap in sports,” Simril said, adding the pioneering athletes’ contributions on and off the field are “nothing short of transcendent.”

Diandra Jay/Board of SupervisorsWith the goal of leveling the playing field so that sport is accessible to all children, LA84 supports thousands of Southern California youth sports organizations through grant making, while also training coaches, commissioning research, convening conferences and acting as a national thought leader on important youth sports issues.

Anita DeFrantz is a 1976 Olympic rowing bronze medalist and 1980 U.S. Olympic Team member.  She later became vice president of the Olympic Village for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, and a president of the LA84 Foundation. Currently, she is a member of four IOC commissions – Finances, Legal Affairs, Olympic Channel and the Coordination for the Tokyo 2020 Games. She is one of Chairman Ridley-Thomas’ appointees to the Women & Girls Initiative’s Governing Council, representing Los Angeles County’s Second District.

Joan Benoit Samuelson became the first woman to win the inaugural Women’s Olympic Marathon at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1984. In 2009 she was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame. Currently, she serves as a consultant to Nike and as a clinician.

Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors