On a day dedicated to celebrating the venerable Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas led people on the frontlines helping the homeless – from street outreach workers to advocates – at the 35th annual Kingdom Day Parade, drawing grateful cheers and applause from the crowds along Martin Luther King Blvd. The 3-mile parade began at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Western Avenue, proceeded west to Crenshaw Boulevard and then south to Vernon Avenue. Thousands of people lined the streets to cheer on dozens of marching bands, floats, equestrian units, drill teams, dance groups, and dignitaries. The theme this year — “Equality For All Humanity, Our Next Step.”
About 85 street outreach workers participated in the parade, many of them working for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the LA County Department of Mental Health or working for nonprofits such as HOPICS and St. Joseph Center, contracted by LA County Department of Health Services.
As he walked with over 100 street outreach workers, case managers, Empowerment Congress members, and other people who serve the homeless, and advocate for services in their community, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas stressed that everyone has to do to their part to address the crisis. He made a similar call to action at the 28th Annual Empowerment Congress, which came on the heels of Governor Gavin Newsom issuing an Executive Order and proposing an unprecedented investment of $1.4 billion in the state budget to address homelessness. Elements of the Governor’s spending plan had been inspired by programs in Los Angeles County. The call to action also follows the Governor’s Council of Regional Advisors, co-chaired by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, issuing a 40-point Comprehensive Crisis Response Strategy.
The call came just one day prior to the Board of Supervisors’ vote on a motion by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn that seeks to develop a framework for multiple Los Angeles County departments to start implementing priority elements of that Comprehensive Crisis Response Strategy, particularly for those people currently living on the streets who are ready to come indoors.
“Implicit in Governor Newsom’s proposal and the Council’s recommendations is a call for State, county and city governments to respond to this crisis with new urgency, boldness and ingenuity,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who co-chairs the Council with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas noted more than 1,000 homeless people died on Los Angeles County streets last year, and this trend is not expected to abate unless solutions for more immediate shelter and housing can be found.
“By taking action, we have a chance to live out our professed values and bring them in line with our most sacred right: dignity for all,” the Supervisor said.