A Crisis of Homelessness

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Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas called for intensifying efforts to build affordable housing and permanent supportive housing after the 2015 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found one out of every three homeless people in the county lives in the Second District.

The biennial survey found 14,116 men, women and children in the Second District live on the streets, in vehicles or in shelters, accounting for 34 percent of the county’s homeless population.

“Homelessness is a problem that the entire county of Los Angeles struggles with,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “However, it’s particularly acute in the Second District, and that’s a tragedy.”

“I have made an effort to address this issue by supporting and helping to fund more than 1,500 affordable housing units in the Second District since 2009, but homelessness and the housing crisis are regional issues that require regional responses,” he added. “We all need to work together – city, county, state and federal governments – to build permanent supportive housing in areas that need them most.”

The Homeless Count, conducted in January by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), found 41,174 homeless people throughout Los Angeles County, a 12 percent increase from 2013. About two-thirds of them are considered “unsheltered” or living in places not meant for human habitation, such as vehicles, parks, sidewalks and abandoned buildings. Many are living with mental and physical disabilities or have co-occurring disorders.

“It is imperative that local efforts are redoubled to secure more affordable housing and permanent supportive housing for our residents, to bring about a living wage for households struggling to make ends meet, and to put in place crisis response systems that prevent and end homelessness in a coordinated manner,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

In the Second District, several projects are under way to provide the homeless permanent supportive housing, rental subsidies, and supportive services.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas was an early proponent and funder of the Homeless Family Solutions System, a partnership between LAHSA, the city and county of Los Angeles, and community-based organizations, which has placed over 700 families into permanent housing since July 2014.

He also set aside $250,000 for a one-year pilot program focusing on families living in mobile homes at an RV Park in Rancho Dominguez.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas co-sponsored a motion with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl for Los Angeles County to support AB 1335, the Building Homes and Jobs Act. Authored by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, it would establish a permanent source of funding for affordable housing throughout California.

In the months to come, the supervisor also plans to look into “boomerang” redevelopment funds to make sure it’s being used effectively to increase the stock of affordable and permanent supportive housing in the county.

Also under way is the Coordinated Entry System, which prioritizes the most vulnerable among the homeless population – those who rely heavily on the county’s healthcare, social services and criminal justice systems – for permanent supportive housing.