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LA County Launches First-of-its-Kind Online Tool to Address Street Homelessness

A first-of-its-kind online tool is on its way to help address street homelessness in Los Angeles County.  This month, the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority launched the Los Angeles Homeless Outreach Portal, dubbed LA-HOP. Funded by Measure H, the new mobile-friendly platform empowers members of the public, first responders and service providers to provide information on homeless persons on the street and request outreach.

“With just a few taps on a cell phone, LA-HOP makes it easier to request help for people experiencing homelessness on the streets of L.A. County,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “This innovative tool will help us deploy our street outreach teams where they are most needed, so they can begin building relationships with our homeless neighbors and offer to connect them to services and housing.”

LA-HOP (la-hop.org) is a valuable new tool to get services to vulnerable residents living on the street. It makes it easier and more efficient for the public to request help and have it dispatched to connect homeless persons with outreach workers. The portal takes the guesswork out of figuring out geographic boundaries, by seamlessly routing requests and tracking the response. An outreach coordinator in each region serves as the “air traffic controller” for all requests and deploys the most appropriate outreach team, with the goal of reducing response times to those in need.

“This website is an important new addition to the many ways in which county, city, nonprofits and community leaders are working together to reduce homelessness,” said Board Chair Sheila Kuehl. “It gives the public a way to directly seek help for men, women and families experiencing homelessness. No single solution is a magic bullet, but each step we take gets us closer to our goal of making sure that every man, woman and child in L.A. County has a home.”

The Countywide movement to prevent and combat homelessness is constantly seeking new approaches to deliver what’s working more effectively. LA-HOP is designed to advance efforts to help people move from homelessness to housing by activating the general public to become part of the solution.

“LA-HOP provides a quick and easy way for residents to be a part of the solution to help combat homelessness by connecting homeless individuals to critical supportive services,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger.   “With this portal, we get real-time information about where homeless individuals are, allowing us to connect them to resources more quickly and efficiently.”

LA-HOP was designed by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Health Agency and the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative. Due to high demand, it may take a few days for an outreach team to be deployed; coordinators will prioritize those individuals who are most vulnerable. With nearly 40,000 people living on the streets of LA County, the need for outreach services is great.

“There are plenty of people in L.A. County who come across a person struggling with homelessness and don’t know what to do to get them help,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “LA-HOP is an innovative tool that makes it easy for the public to request help for people in need anywhere in L.A. County.  If this homelessness crisis has proven anything, it is that our county is full of compassionate, caring people and this online portal allows them to be part of the solution.”

“LA-HOP is a powerful tool to directly target resources and outreach to people experiencing homelessness,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “By efficiently routing support and empowering the public, this new Measure H-funded web portal will be an important part of our effort to quickly help the most vulnerable members of our society.”

Outreach teams responding to LA-HOP requests also conduct ongoing outreach all across the County. The portal does not replace homeless encampment reporting protocols established by the City of Los Angeles (my311), the County of Los Angeles and other jurisdictions.

Supervisor Honors Beverly White for Exemplary Journalism

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas presents a scroll to NBC4 reporter Beverly White, flanked by members of the Board of Supervisors, top executives from NBC4 Southern California, and members of the National Association of Black Journalists – Los Angeles. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas presented NBC4 reporter Beverly White with a scroll in honor of her being chosen to receive the 2018 Chuck Stone Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with NBC4 reporter Beverly White and her husband, Xavier Higgs. Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors.

“It is a national acknowledgement of how her extraordinary work as a journalist has contributed to the enrichment, understanding and advancement of black life and culture,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said during the ceremony at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration.

White has covered a variety of breaking local and national stories during her nearly 40-year career, including the Northridge earthquake, the Montecito mudslides, and the Boston Marathon bombings. She has said that she was drawn to journalism because of its power to help correct racial disparities through accurate and thoughtful news coverage of important issues.

As a pioneering black woman in this highly competitive field, she has been an inspiration to many, as well as a mentor to the next generation of reporters.

“I am humbled to have Los Angeles County’s most influential body of elected officials acknowledge my NABJ Chuck Stone Lifetime Achievement Award,” White said. “This recognition touches my heart since I’ve spent most of my career in LA, covering civil unrest, labor actions, natural disasters and more.”

Members of the National Association of Black Journalists – Los Angeles (L-R): Marqueeda LaStar, Robert Harrell, Veronica Hendrix, Tre’Vell Anderson, Beverly White, Lois Pitter Bruce, Xavier Higgs, and Jarrett Hill. Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors.

Born and raised in Killeen, Texas, White was one of four children and the first in her household to finish college. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, she reported for news stations in Waco, San Antonio, Cincinnati and Miami. Her reporting on Hurricane Andrew earned her and her news team a Peabody Award.

Her career took a meaningful turn when she attended an NABJ convention and met the executive who ultimately recruited her to join NBC4 in Los Angeles, where she recently celebrated her 25th anniversary.

Aside from the Peabody Award, White is also a recipient of the 2012 Distinguished Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, the 2008 California Legislative Black Caucus Leadership Award, and many other honors.

“Beverly White is simply a legend, a broadcasting mainstay,” said NABJ President Sarah Glover, social media editor for NBC-owned television stations. “For more than a quarter of a century, Beverly has been delivering strong news stories in the country’s second-largest market. To say she has a powerful presence that resonates with her viewers would be an understatement.”

Working nights allows White to meet with students during the day and encourage them to enter the profession. She has served as a scholar-in-residence at Citrus College and an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California.

“I think Beverly is the ultimate example of what a black journalist is, what a black journalist can be, and a really great person who has a great heart,” said Tre’vell Anderson, president of NABJ – Los Angeles, and a film reporter at the Los Angeles Times.

The NABJ bestows its Lifetime Achievement award on journalists with at least 15 years of experience and a track record of extraordinary contributions to the enrichment, understanding and advancement of black life and culture. The award is named after Chuck Stone, late columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and former Tuskegee Airman, who died in 2014.

L-R: Senior VP of Government Affairs for NBC Universal Steve Nissen; NBC4 Southern California President and General Manager Steve Carlson; Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas; NBC4 reporter Beverly White, NBC4 Southern California VP for News Todd Mokhtari; NBC4 Southern California VP for Communications and Community Affairs Terri Hernandez Rosales; and NBC4 Executive Producer Carlos Hopkins. Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors.

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on Placing a Water Quality Funding Measure on the Ballot

“Clean water is critical. Let the voters decide if they want to pay for it or not.”

LA County Offers to Step In to Help
Customers of Troubled Water District

Local regulators unanimously voted to initiate the dissolution of the mismanaged Sativa Water District. The vote came just one day after Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn sent a letter to the State Water Board proposing that LA County be appointed as interim administrator of the water district until a permanent agency can be identified. The Local Agency Formation Commission for the County of Los Angeles (LAFCO), consistent with the Supervisors’ letter, also urged the State to appoint and provide financial support to the County of Los Angeles, in order for them to oversee the District. The County of Los Angeles has also offered to lead a process to identify an alternative, competent long-term water provider.

Hundreds of Sativa customers in unincorporated Willowbrook and Compton have reported brown water running through their taps. Unable to provide proper maintenance of its 70-year-old pipes, Sativa has been the subject of many such complaints over the years, as well as allegations of mismanagement and nepotism.

In the letter, the Supervisors also urged the California State Water Resources Board to empower and fund the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works to begin “creating stability in Sativa’s immediate administrative functions” and “facilitating a long-term alternative service provider for this service territory.”

Residents line up for bottled water at Sagrado Corazon Church in Compton.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said, “For too long, government – at all levels – has allowed Sativa to operate without sufficient oversight. The County is willing to step up to facilitate the changes that are necessary to promote the public health and wellbeing of Sativa customers. In this time of unprecedented surpluses in its budget, we hope the State will be our partner by providing the financial resources needed to facilitate our efforts.”

“The County is prepared to step in to take control of this long-mismanaged water district,” said Supervisor Hahn, a member of LAFCO, who voted in favor the dissolution. “The leadership of Sativa has proven itself to be incapable and untrustworthy and as LAFCO moves forward to dissolve this district, I am hopeful that the County can provide some needed supervision and stability.”

When Sativa customers first expressed alarm about the brown water running through their taps in April, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas filed an urgency motion to conduct an investigation, take immediate steps to prevent any serious risks to public health, and determine whether appropriate management and governance of the water district is in place to address Sativa’s infrastructure issues. At his direction, the County distributed approximately 20,000 gallons of bottled water to residents of unincorporated Willowbrook and Compton.

In June, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas called on the California State Water Resources Control Board to appoint an interim administrator to exercise “vigorous oversight” of Sativa. Shortly after, he filed a motion to support SB1577 by Assemblymember Mike Gipson, which called for requiring the state to appoint an overseer for Sativa.