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Spotlight on the Creative Economy

Los Angeles County’s world-class entertainment and sporting venues include: (clockwise from top left) Lucas Museum, LA Memorial Coliseum, Rams LA Stadium in Inglewood, and LA Football Club’s Banc of California Stadium.

The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) will place new emphasis on efforts to stimulate job growth, particularly in the creative economy. Acting on a recommendation by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, CSAC updated its work plan during its 124th annual meeting in San Diego to support:

  • proposals that stimulate economic development, regional job growth, increase small business creation, create well-paying jobs for workers of all skill levels, including high poverty and high unemployment areas; and
  • research and development in high growth and emerging industries, including but not limited to, life science, arts, culture, entertainment/sport and film and digital media, as well as the job training and educational opportunities that train the workforce to support these industries.

CSAC represents California’s 58 counties – ranging from Alpine with a little more than 1,200 people, to Los Angeles with more than 10 million – before the state and federal governments, as well as administrative agencies. Its long-term objective is to significantly improve the fiscal health of all California counties so they can adequately meet the demand for vital public programs and services.

“In the imagination capital of the world, home to world-class sports and entertainment venues as well as arts and cultural institutions, California’s diverse and skilled local workforce have so much potential to thrive,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “I am hopeful that the new administration in Sacramento will support CSAC’s efforts to advocate for greater investment in the creative economy.”

According to the Otis Report, the creative economy — which includes arts and culture, sports and entertainment – generated $407 billion in economic output across California in 2016, and accounted for 1.6 million direct, indirect, and induced jobs. In Los Angeles County, it generated $198 billion in economic output, supported close to one-fifth of all jobs and directly employed over 10 percent of all private sector workers, resulting in $60 billion in wages earned and $9 billion in tax revenues.

Enhancing Law Enforcement in Los Angeles County

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas On the Election of the Los Angeles County Sheriff

“We wish outgoing Sheriff Jim McDonnell all the best in his future endeavors, and welcome Sheriff-elect Alex Villanueva in his new role. While we have made some important strides in oversight and criminal justice reform, much remains to be done to enhance law enforcement in Los Angeles County for department employees – both sworn and civilian – and for the community at large.”

LA County Enhances Shelter Standards

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas surveys a room at the MLK Recuperative Care Center in Willowbrook, where homeless patients from hospitals and clinics can recover before being connected to supportive housing. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

Bolstering the countywide movement to combat and prevent homelessness, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance to establish a new public health permit and licensing requirement to ensure uniform countywide standards for interim housing facilities that serve people experiencing homelessness.

The ordinance is the first element in a three-pronged approach to strengthen the coordinated system of interim housing, which includes: establishing uniform facility standards; implementing service standards across all publicly-funded interim housing; and instituting a uniform grievance and complaint process. These recommendations stem from a six-month collaborative process convened by the County Chief Executive Office/ Homeless Initiative, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, and the County Departments of Health Services, Mental Health and Public Health, in conjunction with people who have experienced homelessness, and nonprofit operators of interim housing.

MLK Recuperative Care Center in Willowbrook. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors.

The enactment of this ordinance will allow the Department of Public Health – Environmental Health to implement a new inspection program to ensure that interim housing facilities comply with applicable health and safety requirements, as well as requirements that are specifically tailored to this type of temporary housing. The public health permit ordinance covers 7,700 beds in 327 interim housing facilities, of which 234 are publicly funded and 93 are privately funded.

“My commitment to protecting the health and safety of L.A. County residents extends to individuals who seek temporary shelter in our interim housing facilities,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “As we work to expand interim housing options for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, we must also ensure that new and existing facilities meet health and safety requirements. This ordinance will enable the Department of Public Health to ensure the quality of our interim housing facilities, especially recuperative care housing.”

“With this ordinance, we will ensure that Los Angeles County remains a standard bearer for accountability and performance, especially when it comes to serving the homeless,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who championed the development of uniform shelter standards. “Our goal with Measure H has always been to create communities where everyone can live with dignity and purpose, and this includes shelters and other interim housing facilities.”

“As we expand our interim housing we want to make sure that the buildings reflect the standards we’ve set for achieving our goal of stabilizing the lives of those experiencing homelessness and assisting them in their journey toward permanent homes,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “We are expanding interim beds quickly, and we need to ensure quality as well as quantity.”

“Many families who we are working to lift out of homelessness will spend time in interim housing before moving into a permanent home, and we have to ensure that these are clean, safe places to live,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn.

“Ensuring that health and safety standards are met in interim housing facilities improves the wellbeing and long-term outcomes for those attempting to rise out of homelessness,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

MLK Recuperative Care Center in Willowbrook. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors.

LA Hits Another Milestone in Fight Against Homelessness

LAHSA Executive Director Peter Lynn, LA County Homeless Initiative Director Phil Ansell, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Supervisor Janice Hahn, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Joe Buscaino and several Homeless Count volunteers celebrate progress in the fight against homelessness. All Photos by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors.

Standing in the courtyard of a brand new affordable housing apartment building, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn, and LA City Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Joe Buscaino announced that tens of thousands of men, women and children throughout Los Angeles County have been placed in permanent homes and interim housing since voters approved landmark initiatives to combat homelessness. They each encouraged everyone to help sustain this progress by volunteering for the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas greets 63-year-old Horace Lackey who, thanks to Measure H, just moved into the 127th Street and El Segundo Boulevard Apartments after living for years at a homeless encampment on 39th and Broadway in South LA. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors.

“Thanks to Measure H, we have collectively housed almost 10,000 men, women and children — and that’s just over the last 15 months,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “There’s more work ahead of us but this is tangible progress and a sign that we should redouble our efforts. As we head into the season of giving, let us roll up our sleeves, open our hearts and extend our hands to help our unhoused neighbors.”

The progress report was announced during a press conference at the Harbor Gateway area’s newly-opened 127th Street and El Segundo Boulevard Apartments, a 160-unit apartment complex that includes the kinds of supportive services that Angelenos voted for by landslide numbers with 2016’s Prop HHH and 2017’s Measure H.

In the last 15 months, the Measure H quarter-cent sales tax has funded a major expansion of countywide homelessness programs including street outreach, emergency shelter, rapid rehousing, supportive housing, and benefits advocacy for homeless disabled adults, and thousands of people have received much-needed help — including 9,635 homeless men, women and children who are now in permanent housing. During the same time period, 18,714 people entered crisis, bridge and interim housing.

“Nearly two years ago, we made a bold promise to voters: that with Measure H funding we would be able to help lift 45,000 out of homelessness in five years,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “Today, we are well on our way to delivering on that promise.”

Other measurable progress due to Measure H includes:

  • Connecting to benefits: 8,479 disabled individuals received assistance applying for SSI and Veterans Disability Benefits;
  • Supportive services and rent: 4,165 clients were linked to Intensive Case Management Services connected to supportive housing. Of those, 1,717 received federal rental subsidies and 1,604 clients received local rental subsidies;
  • Partnering with providers: The County provided $1,802,988 in incentives to landlords to help secure 757 affordable apartments for recipients of Section 8 housing vouchers;
  • Boots on the ground: More than 350 Measure H-funded street outreach workers, including members of 36 multidisciplinary street outreach teams, are now working across the County;
  • Hiring vs. homelessness: As of September 2018, homeless service providers have filled almost 1,500 new jobs across the region.

The Measure H progress report accompanied a  volunteer drive for the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, which the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) will conduct from January 22-24, 2019.

“Homelessness is the most pressing issue facing L.A. today — and we can only end it if everyone steps up and works together,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “We have made encouraging progress in this fight over the last year. But the work is far from over, and we must keep pushing forward. That’s why it is so important to sign up and volunteer for the 2019 count.”

Since the November 2016 passage of the $1.2-billion Prop HHH, the City of Los Angeles has funded more than two dozen facilities with about 600 affordable apartments. As those continue to come on line, the City of Los Angeles has also  launched A Bridge Home, designating city-owned real estate to help people come off the streets more quickly. A Bridge Home has already opened temporary housing sites in Hollywood and Downtown.

Press Conference at the newly opened 127th Street and El Segundo Boulevard Apartments, which have a combined 160 units — most of which now house people who had been living on the streets. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors

Peter Lynn, Executive Director of LAHSA, reiterated the need for Homeless Count volunteers. “Every year, Los Angeles County residents by the thousands spend a couple of January nights walking the streets where too many of our homeless neighbors live,” he said.  “These efforts help us recognize the scale of our crisis and the specifics of our fellow Angelenos’ lives. And they come on top of admirable work throughout the years to lessen those neighbors’ burden—whether by showing up to support locating affordable and bridge housing in their communities, helping win new resources to address this crisis at scale, or helping their fellow Angelenos with donations and care.”

Thousands of volunteers sign up to join the Homeless Count every year, reaching 8,500 in 2018. Volunteers receive training and walk designated areas in small groups. LAHSA accompanies the street count with institutional counts, demographic surveys, a youth count, and statistical analysis in partnership with the University of Southern California that fully develops our picture of homelessness. Volunteer registration for the 2019 Homeless Count is live at www.theycountwillyou.org.

The results of the January 2018 Count showed homelessness had fallen for the first time in years, decreasing by 4 percent to 53,195.

Forward Progress on First LA County Arts Department

The Board of Supervisors took further steps toward creating the first Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture Department. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Board Chair Sheila Kuehl had coauthored the motion earlier this year with broad support from arts funders, creators and institutions.

“When we think about nearly 800,000 creative industry jobs in 2016, $200-billion in economic output, and $9-billion in taxes, we understand the impact of the arts and the creative economy,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “With the new Arts and Culture Department, our region’s reliance on the financial output from the many sectors of the creative economy – digital media, sporting and other special events –will be included and enhanced.”

The transition of the LA County Arts Commission to the LA County Department of Arts and Culture is anticipated to be completed by July 1, 2019.

“There was a time when the arts were seen as a nice-to-have rather than a must-have,” LA County Arts Commission Executive Director Kristin Sakoda said when the Board voted to create the new department. “Today the ordinance creating the first ever Department of Arts and Culture for the County of Los Angeles marks a historic milestone for the arts in LA County and elevates the County’s vital role in public support for arts and culture.”

The LA County Arts Commission was initially established in 1947. It has grown in the last 71 years since from solely supporting local music performances to supporting hundreds of nonprofit organizations and functioning as a full-service local arts agency.

Throughout the decades, the Commission’s role has expanded to include innovative and meaningful programs including working with school districts throughout the County to develop and implement a strategic plan to integrate arts into K-12 public schools. It also administers the Civic Art program, where artists are aligned with capital projects to bring aesthetics and programming to the community in which the project is located, as well as the Arts Internship Program. To date, more than 2,000 college and university students participate in a paid internship for ten weeks during the summer in arts organizations and venues throughout the County.