First-of-its-Kind Online Tool to Address Street Homelessness

A first-of-its-kind online tool now helps address street homelessness in Los Angeles County.  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.

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas On the Typhus Outbreak

“Public health crises do not discriminate between housed and unhoused individuals. We hope that the work our public health department is leading will help address both the immediate typhus outbreak and the underlying drivers that put our communities at risk for this and other public health harms.”

Care Harbor Provides Free Health Care to Thousands

Volunteer dentists at Care Harbor on October 13, 2018. Photo by Hugh Williams / Board of Supervisors

An estimated 3,000 people received medical, dental, vision and preventive care – all for free – at this year’s Care Harbor mega health clinic.

Over three days, thousands of volunteer doctors, nurses, dentists, optometrists and other healthcare professionals provided primary and specialty care, immunizations, screenings, eye exams, dental extractions, Type 2 Diabetes management and prevention, and many other health services at The Reef in downtown Los Angeles.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks at Care Harbor 2018. Photo by Hugh Williams / Board of Supervisors

“We’re here today because, despite all the progress we’ve made, there are still too many people who slip through the cracks and go without medical treatment,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “Together, we’re all committed to providing a healthcare safety net that’s robust and responsive to the needs of our most vulnerable communities.”

“With the help of our generous partners, Care Harbor offers a wide range of health services at no cost for people who lack access to the care that they need,” said Don Manelli, founder and president of Care Harbor, a nonprofit organization that works with volunteer healthcare professionals and community resources to organize large-scale free urban health clinics for uninsured and medically underserved populations. “In addition to medical, dental and vision care, we’re providing preventive care, mental health counseling and referrals, social and legal services,” Manelli added.

Optometrist performs vision test. Photo by Hugh Williams / Board of Supervisors

“Care Harbor offers an excellent opportunity for residents with unmet healthcare needs to access the healthcare and prevention education resources necessary to thrive,” added County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. “Thanks to the tremendous leadership of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the partnership of committed community partners, Los Angeles County can participate in Care Harbor and help meet the medical, dental, vision and prevention care needs of our most vulnerable residents.”

“Each year, the Care Harbor clinic shows the unfortunate magnitude of the uninsured in Los Angeles County and the tremendous unmet need for basic medical, dental and vision care despite coverage gains,” County Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said. “When individuals, especially those with chronic illnesses, avoid medical care because of the high cost or because they do not have access to a regular provider, they place their health and the health of their families in jeopardy. The County Health Services Department is proud to be an annual Care Harbor event sponsor and build healthier communities by linking participants to ongoing, affordable care within our County-run health system.”

Volunteer physician serves a patient at Care Harbor 2018. Photo by Hugh Williams / Board of Supervisors

“Care Harbor, made possible through the work of hundreds of clinicians, staff and dedicated volunteers in service to our County’s most vulnerable residents, is a grassroots approach to the fundamental need for integrated health care,” County Mental Health Director Dr. Jonathan Sherin said. “Through this effort, and follow-up visits to local clinics throughout the County, clients are receiving vital services for their physical and mental health, with a focus on how to maintain good health and achieve wellbeing.”

“L.A. Care and Care Harbor share a common desire to serve the most vulnerable communities in Los Angeles County and help residents live healthier lives,” said L.A. Care Health Plan Deputy Chief Medical Officer Alex Li. “As a physician who has volunteered at this event, I am always inspired by the incredible spirit of all of the volunteers.”

Los Angeles County Public Works Department Prepares to Take Over Sativa Water District

Acting on a motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to authorize the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (DPW) to enter into an agreement with the California Water Resources Control Board to serve as interim administrator of the troubled Sativa Water District.

“Residents of Willowbrook and Compton have had to endure brown water coming out of their taps for years, because of Sativa’s mismanagement,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “With DPW in charge, these customers will finally have the competent water service provider they deserve.”

He added DPW is well suited for the role of interim administrator, given its extensive experience operating systems across the County. It currently operates 68,000 service connections, serving approximately 245,000 people.

“This is a victory for the people,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “By putting the LA County Department of Public Works in charge, residents will finally have a capable, trustworthy water provider they can count on. There is a lot more work that needs to be done but we are in it for the long-haul for the customers of Sativa.”

Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, who has held town hall meetings with Sativa customers who had brown water coming out of their taps, welcomed the vote.

“I wholeheartedly support the Board of Supervisors’ motion to authorize the LA County Department of Public Works as interim administrator for the Sativa Water District,” she said. “Federal, state and local government must work together to ensure that improvements to the water system are made, that all public funds that went to Sativa are accounted for, and that residents have clean water and are given sufficient information about their service provider.”

On Sept. 28, Governor Jerry Brown signed LA County-sponsored legislation, AB 1577 by Assemblymember Mike Gipson, empowering the Water Board to order Sativa to accept an interim administrator until a replacement water service provider can be identified for the long-term.

As interim administrator, DPW would assess the condition of the existing water facilities and identify any necessary and timely improvements to ensure safe drinking water is available to Sativa customers. It will also work closely with the Water Board to ensure that water quality meets all regulatory standards.

Ribbon Cut on Harbor-UCLA Medical Center KIDS Hub Clinic

Ribbon Cutting at KIDS Hub Clinic at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. All photos by Dave Franco / Board of Supervisors

On September 12, 2018, Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas joined with leaders from Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and the Department of Health Services to cut the ribbon on the newly constructed KIDS Hub Clinic at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. The KIDS Hub provides services to children from birth through age 18 who involved with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks at the ribbon cutting at September 12, 2018.

“Today, we recognize, honor, and celebrate the critical services provided by our Pediatric Hub system for vulnerable children throughout the County,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “Simply stated: children matter, children come first, and our duty is to be there for them.”

The KIDS Hub provides state-of-the-art expert assessment while reducing trauma to the child victims and their families and evaluates. “The expert medical, forensic evaluations and developmental assessments we provide to identify child abuse and neglect for children involved with DCFS, are key to identifying and protecting at-risk children,” said Kelly Callahan, MD, KIDS Hub Medical Director.

The Harbor-UCLA Medical Center KIDS Hub provides services to children from birth up to age 18, who involved with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). It is part of a Los Angeles County Department of Health Services network of Hub clinics, designed to serve this particularly vulnerable population.

“We are thrilled to recognize the completion of the newest of DHS’ six Hub Clinics. Through our partnerships with the Departments of Mental Health and Children and Family Services, the Hub Clinics provide a vital link to medical care, forensic exams and other health services for the most vulnerable children in our communities,” said Christina Ghaly, MD, Acting Director of Health Services.

The KIDS Hub operates in partnership with the Los Angeles County Departments of Children and Family Services and Mental Health. “DMH is very excited about the expansion and enrichment of the KIDS Hub,” said Jon Sherin, MD, Director of Mental Health. “This additional resource is a critical component of our foster care network and will be an essential part of our ongoing work to prevent and mitigate trauma for children and their families.”