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A Call to Action on Homelessness


Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas issued a call to action after the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found Los Angeles County’s homeless population increased 23 percent over the past year to 57,794.

“We have business to do,” Chairman Ridley-Thomas said at a press conference organized by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). “No hand-wringing, no fretting, no ‘woe is me’ – it’s just simply time to roll up our sleeves and do what we know needs to be done. You’ve got to be ready to fight to end homelessness in the County of Los Angeles.”

Chairman Ridley-Thomas said voters’ passage of Measure H in March and Proposition HHH in November has “afforded us an opportunity to do what we have never ever had the opportunity to do in this region, and that is to step forward with our imagination, our compassion, our resources, and confront the issue of homelessness in the County of Los Angeles.”

“I am not at all discouraged by this (Homeless Count),” Chairman Ridley-Thomas added. “Many of us sensed that there was an uptick, and these numbers validate that. The good news is that we have the capacity, for the first time, to stand up to it.”

Measure H is a 1/4-cent sales tax expected to raise $355 million annually for services to the homeless countywide. It creates an unprecedented funding stream expected to move 45,000 homeless men, women and children into stable housing within the next five years, and provide them with the high-quality, multi-dimensional supportive services they need to succeed in the long run. It is also intended to prevent an estimated 30,000 people from becoming homeless in the first place. Proposition HHH, meanwhile, is a $1.2-billion bond measure estimated to build 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing in the City of Los Angeles.

“We have no excuse not to do our very best because we are now equipped,” Chairman Ridley-Thomas said, adding the County’s Homeless Initiative is “digging in deep” and so are city governments, nonprofit service providers and others engaged in the fight against homelessness. “There’s an army out there, and we’re ready to do what we must do,” he said.

On June 13, the Board of Supervisors will hear the final report of a 50-member planning group convened to develop funding recommendations for the first three years of Measure H revenue, totaling about $1 billion. Implementing those recommendations will begin in earnest during the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. Core strategies include:

  • Sending outreach and engagement teams to reach the homeless on every street corner;
  • Providing permanent housing with healthcare and other services;
  • Expanding rapid rehousing for the newly homeless;
  • Enhancing the emergency shelter system, including for those leavings jails and hospitals; and
  • Strengthening the network of community nonprofits already serving homeless single adults, families and youth.

“This planning effort has not been done in haste,” Chairman Ridley-Thomas said. “It is a reflection of years of work, principally by the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles with the input of thousands of stakeholders, to develop plans to deal with homelessness in a collaborative way.”

Also in attendance at the press conference were Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Marqueece Harris Dawson and LAHSA Commissioner Wendy Greuel and Executive Director Peter Lynn.

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Cutting-Edge Data Center Saves Millions

Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas speaks at the unveiling of DataCenter1 in El Segundo. Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

Breaking new ground in the digital age, Los Angeles County unveiled Data Center One, modernizing its information technology infrastructure while saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Located in El Segundo, the privately leased facility dubbed “DC1” will replace the County’s 49 data centers and provide greater security and efficiency for millions of documents and transactions, from health assessments to online book catalogue visits to pet adoptions.

Consolidating dozens of scattered data centers into a single facility operated by T5 Data Centers frees up to 67,000 square feet of space while expanding the County’s capacity to support 603 databases, store approximately 33 million documents, and process 83 million transactions per month. DC1 also has state-of-the-art energy efficiency features and enables fast access to new technologies and sophisticated data analysis tools to empower faster resource allocation, smarter decision-making and more efficient operations.

“We are on the path to modernizing countywide information technology, and we are doing it in a cutting-edge, cost effective and energy efficient way,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas said as he cut the ribbon during the grand opening ceremony. “It’s the pinnacle of what public-private partnership should be.”

 “This facility will save the County hundreds of millions of dollars,” he added. “That means more dollars available to provide LA County residents with the goods and services they really need. Whether it is fighting homelessness, promoting child protection, or a variety of other initiatives, those resources will be put to better use.”

Chairman Ridley-Thomas co-authored the motion directing the County’s chief executive officer, chief information officer and Internal Services director to merge the County’s 49 data centers and consolidate the technology infrastructure of the County’s 37 departments into a single facility. The goal was to reduce the cost of hardware, software and operations; shift to more efficient computing platforms; use less energy and real estate; and boost cybersecurity.

Leasing the DC1 costs $2 million a year – far less expensive than the 58,000-square foot data center that the County’s previous CEO originally recommended building for over $200 million, not including power, cooling and operational expenses. Concerned that the original proposal was too expensive, oversized, and likely to become obsolete, Chair Ridley-Thomas asked the Board to consult an independent expert. Gartner Inc.’s analysis concluded that leasing no more than 10,000 square feet of space would be more efficient, both operationally and fiscally.

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Opportunity Knocks for Future EMT’s

Young Men from Los Angeles County’s Second District Attend an Orientation at Central Baptist Church in Carson

Young Men from Los Angeles County’s Second District Attend an Orientation at Central Baptist Church in Carson

For the first time, a unique pilot program to train underserved young men of color to become Emergency Medical Technicians is on its way to Los Angeles County. The program is a partnership between the Office of Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Workers Education and Resource Center with funding support from the California Endowment.

“This pilot program is a win-win. Our young men of color deserve access to the best opportunities,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas. “And our communities deserve first rate emergency medical technicians.”

On the heels of a successful recent program in Alameda County, 21 young men from Los Angeles County’s Second District and their accountability partners, made up of parents, friends or significant others, participated in the orientation and kickoff at Central Baptist Church in Carson. Representatives from the Los Angeles County Departments of Children and Family Services, Probation, and Fire were on hand to provide words of wisdom and to participate in the launch of the program.

The five month intensive program will include technical skill development, life skill building and culminate in EMT certification. The young men selected through a rigorous application process will earn a training stipend of $1,200 per month.

This group is the first of three groups that will participate in the pilot program in Los Angeles County’s Second District over the next two years.

Role of Citizens in Governance

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The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a set of recommendations to enhance the efficiency and accountability of Citizen Advisory Boards.

“Citizen Advisory Boards encourage public participation in the governance of Los Angeles County, providing us with advice and recommendations about policies and services,” Board Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “These recommendations will ensure the voice of the people is heard.”

Role of Citizens in Governance Slides

Honorary USC Degree for Ridley-Thomas

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The University of Southern California awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters to Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas at its 134th Commencement, citing his contributions to the community.

“It is my hope and commitment that I may continue to serve the public, especially the underserved in our society who are homeless, jobless and lack access to basic medical care, which I believe is a right and not a privilege,” said Board Chairman Ridley-Thomas, who received his Ph.D. in Social Ethics from USC in 1989, focusing on Social Criticism and Social Change.

USC also awarded honorary degrees to comedian Will Ferrell, who delivered the commencement address. Ferrell earned his undergraduate degree in Sports Information from USC in 1990. Also recognized were Oscar winner Dame Helen Mirren, social work visionary Suzanne Dworak-Peck, orthopaedic spinal surgeon and inventor Gary Michelson, and David Ho, a leading researcher in the fight against AIDS.

OPENING REMARKS BY USC PRESIDENT C.L. MAX NIKIAS

USC President C.L. Max Nikias and Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

USC President C.L. Max Nikias and Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

Good morning, and welcome to the 134th Annual Commencement of the University of Southern California! 

Today, we confer more than 15,000 degrees at the undergraduate level, at the graduate and doctoral level, and at the professional level. Today, we confer degrees on graduates from all 50 states and from more than 100 nations, representing hundreds of fields and specialties. We confer them on women and men from every walk of life.

Today, we also confer honorary degrees on a number of international icons in the arts and humanities; in public service and philanthropy; and in medical and scientific innovation.

REMARKS BY DEAN AMBER MILLER OF THE
USC DORNSIFE COLLEGE OF LETTERS, ARTS AND SCIENCES 

Over his long and distinguished career as a state and local legislator, Mark Ridley-Thomas has been a steadfast champion of Los Angeles. He has tirelessly worked to extend vital services to more citizens, and to increase civic engagement in our city. In founding the influential Empowerment Congress more than 25 years ago, he created a powerful model for political expression.

An esteemed Trojan alumnus, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas strengthens our communities by shaping inclusive legislation that touches the lives of millions while helping to fulfill the lofty promise of a democratic society.

For his exceptional legislative efforts, his determined leadership, and his visionary philosophy of community engagement, the University of Southern California is proud to honor Mark Ridley-Thomas with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa.

REMARKS BY USC PRESIDENT C.L. MAX NIKIAS

By the authority vested in me by the USC Board of Trustees, I hereby confer upon Mark Ridley-Thomas the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa. Please accept our warmest congratulations.