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A New Beginning for Casa Honduras in West Athens

Officials from the Community Development Commission of the County of Los Angeles (CDC) joined Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, friends, and neighbors to celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of the Casa Honduras Restaurant (Casa Honduras).

Formerly a Waffle Factory restaurant and Stan Kite Coffee Shop, Casa Honduras was converted into a Latin American restaurant serving the Athens-Westmont community. The CDC provided a RENOVATE grant of over $207,000 for the restaurant’s exterior façade improvements. Casa Honduras is the first of five other businesses along corridor now upgrading their facades with a total investment of $700,000 to date.

“When we invest in our communities, we create opportunity and hope,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

Monique King-Viehland, Acting Executive Director said, “This is the first RENOVATE project completed in the Second District and I hope it demonstrates the value the County can provide to help businesses grow. We have programs to help businesses large and small; it just takes a call to our office and we’re ready to help!”

Funded by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ Economic Development Trust Fund Initiative, the Casa Honduras façade improvement project continues the CDC’s vision of revitalizing commercial corridors. For example, in order to create an inviting outdoor space for the local Athens-Westmont community, the CDC designed a new patio area for festive gatherings. Not only will this enable the Casa Honduras Restaurant to expand its clientele, but will also provide an enhanced sit-down dining experience to benefit the adjacent neighborhood. The enhancements also included new windows, doors, painting, lighting, signage, and a new accessible ramp along the main entry with landing surface and railings. The CDC’s RENOVATE program provides business owners architectural design services, environmental testing and abatement, and construction project management.

“This represents a new beginning for local entrepreneurs, Jose Alvarado and Jose Marin, and a better and safer experience for those that live, work and play in this neighborhood,” the Supervisor said.

Casa Honduras Owner Jose Alvarado said, “I am truly thankful to the CDC for my restaurant being selected as one of the first RENOVATE projects for Los Angeles County. I am very excited to see how my business and the Athens-Westmont community will improve through these enhancements. Thank you to the CDC and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas for this distinct honor!”

Expanding Services for
the Sick, Injured and Homeless

Los Angeles County is giving more homeless patients a safe place to heal, and placing them on a path to housing.

Thanks to Measure H, the County added 250 beds to its recuperative care network just in the past year, bringing the total to 432 beds distributed across 12 locations in Metro and South Los Angeles, Long Beach, Sylmar and Bell. This allows homeless patients to avoid going back out on the streets, where they are at far greater risk of becoming ill or injured all over again

Jennifer Campbell said she was grateful to receive treatment at the 100-bed Martin Luther King, Jr. Recuperative Care Center (MLK RCC) in Willowbrook. “They brought me to a room, and I had my own bed, and I had my own space,” she said. “I was indeed grateful – I was just happy to be alive.”

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at grand opening of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recuperative Care Center in 2016. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

The MLK RCC, part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus, opened in January 2016 and takes in about 600 patients a year. “The MLK RCC provides homeless patients with a place to heal and a path to recovery,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “In addition to temporary housing, they receive round-the-clock care, including nursing, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatments, life skills classes, and other services to help them achieve stability and transition into permanent supportive housing.”

A variety of nonprofit partners operate the County’s 12 recuperative care centers, but the Department of Health Services’ Housing for Health Division oversees the entire network.

A recently released three-year study by the RAND Corporation found Housing for Health initiatives, including recuperative care, saved taxpayers thousands of dollars by reducing hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

“Our hospitals are often hamstrung with no place to discharge homeless patients, necessitating that we hold up a bed for days when other patients truly need them,” County Health Agency director, Dr. Mitch Katz, said. “Recuperative care improves outcomes, reduces emergency room utilization, and creates health system savings that are more than offset by the costs of adding recuperative beds.”

One of the treatment rooms at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recuperative Care Center. Photo by DHS.

The County’s recuperative care network provides short-term transitional care for homeless patients discharged by County-run and private hospitals, as well as those exiting custody facilities with complex health and behavioral health conditions. There, health practitioners can provide services like dressing changes and wound care for patients who no longer require hospitalization, but whose condition could worsen if they were to return to the street. They typically provide such ‘respite’ care over four to 10 weeks on average, depending on the patients’ needs.

While the patients are recovering, social workers will link them to transitional ‘bridge’ or permanent housing with wraparound supportive medical, substance abuse and behavioral health services that can help them remain housed and medically managed.

Over the next 10 years, Measure H will provide over $3 billion that will be dedicated to homeless programs such as wraparound supportive services for those living in independent housing, rental subsidies, street engagement teams, case management and homeless prevention efforts. Recuperative care beds and services are funded through several sources, including Measure H, which has funded the addition of 250 new recupe

Portrait of LA:
From Glittering to Precarious

A recently released report provides an unprecedented analysis of well-being and access to opportunity in Los Angeles County, allowing policymakers and other leaders to better pinpoint communities of greatest need. A Portrait of Los Angeles County revealed large gaps in well-being across location, gender, and race, and identified trends and recommendations for progress.

Commissioned by the County’s Office of Child Protection and released by Measure of America, the report assigned American Human Development Index scores for places and demographic groups, and explored a range of critical issues, including health, education, living standards, environmental justice, housing, homelessness, violence, and inequality.

“The County has been prioritizing data collection and analysis to enable us to make smarter decisions to support the well-being of our 10 million residents,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “This report provides us with a portrait that can begin to immediately inform County decision-making.”

“This way of measuring well-being is totally new to Los Angeles, and allows us to understand how income, health and education intersect to contribute to well-being or, alternatively, to disadvantage,” added Board of Supervisors Chair Sheila Kuehl. “We knew there were disparities across the County but now we have a way of measuring that disparity and geographically pinpointing areas of greatest need.”

On the ten-point American Human Development Index scale, the highest- and lowest-scoring communities are separated by an astounding seven points. San Marino, Manhattan Beach and Palos Verdes Estates topped the list, all scoring over 9.3 on the index. Lennox, East Rancho Dominquez and Florence-Graham each scored lower than 2.7. Within the City of Los Angeles, broken down by community plan area, the gaps are even larger. Bel Air-Beverly Crest and Brentwood-Pacific Palisades are on top with scores of 9.51 and 9.24, respectively, and Southeast LA is at the bottom with 2.26.

“The Portrait provides us with critical information about the well-being of communities that is greatly needed to effectively target prevention supports to the families who need them most,” said Office of Child Protection executive director Judge Michael Nash.

“While metrics like GDP measure how the economy is doing, the American HD Index measures how people are doing, offering a more accurate and nuanced perspective on opportunity and well-being,” said Kristen Lewis, co-director of Measure of America and co-author of A Portrait of LAC. “This study shows that some groups of Angelenos have the highest levels of well-being in the United States—and others have some of the lowest.”

The report concluded by recommending 10 high-value investment areas, such as reducing the toll of violence and trauma, investing in high-quality early care and education for infants and toddlers, expanding affordable housing, addressing racial and ethnic disparities, and helping young people graduate high school and transition to adulthood.


Small Businesses Get a Boost

The Board of Supervisors with recipients of the inaugural Los Angeles County Department Recognition Awards, celebrating leadership in contracting excellence. Photo by Martin Zamora/ Board of Supervisors.

Los Angeles County hit a milestone in its efforts to bolster the small business community, awarding them $100 million in additional procurement contracts over the past fiscal year.

The ultimate goal is to have small businesses and social enterprises account for 25 percent of the County’s contracts for goods and services by the year 2020. For businesses owned by disabled veterans, the target is 3 percent.

When those goals are achieved, small businesses, social enterprises and disabled veteran-owned businesses could have more than $1 billion worth contracts from Los Angeles County. Currently, the small business community accounts for about half of the County’s 3.5 million private sector jobs.

County Department of Public Works executive director Mark Pestrella accepts the scroll.

“We established these targets because it is smart economic development policy for our region to invest in its small business community,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “Small businesses provide half of all jobs in the region and are more likely to employ youth and the underprivileged, and to hire locally.”

The Supervisor recently handed out awards to recognize County departments, community partners and advocates who worked hard to ensure that small businesses are given more contracting opportunities and equipped with the resources they need to succeed.

County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs director Brian Stiger hosted the ceremony. “We are proud to work with so many departments doing commendable work towards helping the County achieve the small business utilization goal,” he said. “I hope the awards ceremony encourages all departments to recognize the power they have to make a positive impact on the local economy.”

The awardees were: Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services assistant director Paul Goldman for Advocate of the Year; Department of Public Works executive director Mark Pestrella for notable achievement in LSBE Utilization; and City of LA Department of Public Works Bureau of Contract Administration director John L. Reamer, Jr. for Excellence in Collaboration.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and DCBA Director Brian Stiger with City of LA Department of Public Works Bureau of Contract Administration director John Reamer, Jr., who received the award for Excellence in Collaboration. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors


Cannabis Legislation Update

The Office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas sponsored an online discussion and Q&A to give the public an update on marijuana regulations being drafted for Los Angeles County’s unincorporated areas following the approval of Prop. 64.

The Office of Cannabis Management presented a slideshow, conducted live polls, and answered questions from the public about the legalization of marijuana, as well as efforts to protect neighborhoods.