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.