Huizar & Homelessness & Poverty committee creating a plan, budget and timeline to begin to address homelessness
This week the City’s Homelessness & Poverty Committee, co-chaired by Councilmembers Huizar and Harris-Dawson, focused on housing, a critical component in addressing the City’s homeless issue. At Wednesday’s meeting, the committee, which also includes Councilmembers Bonin, Cedillo and Price, instructed City staff to develop recommended action steps on a variety of housing strategies, including:
- To integrate the many kinds of housing assets in the City, from emergency shelter to permanent supportive housing, in order to improve long-term outcomes for homeless residents;
- To respond to federal shifts in funding priorities by pursuing “rapid re-housing” and “bridge housing” as pieces of long-term housing for the homeless; and
- To contribute toward a pool of “move-in” funds, which go toward current obstacles to housing for the indigent, such as security deposits or application fees.
Since the committee’s establishment in June as an ad-hoc and later as the City’s first fully dedicated committee addressing homelessness, Councilmember Huizar and the committee have made a number of recommendations toward creating a six-month plan, budget and timeline so that the City of Los Angeles can begin to get a handle on homelessness, which has risen 12% across the City and County. It is leading efforts to:
- Start the “Winter Shelter” program early to provide extra shelter options during El Nino rains.
- Expand services across the City, including locations where homeless can store limited amounts of property instead of keeping it piled on the sidewalk;
- Make more effective the City’s rules around impoundment of homeless property on the street while protecting the rights of people experiencing homelessness;
- Deploy 10 new teams of outreach workers to assist in getting people off the streets; and
- Fully implement the Coordinated Entry System (CES), which is a central tracking system that identifies high-needs homeless and better aligns homeless individuals with the appropriate housing and services available.
Huizar, Ridley-Thomas’ Skid Row City/County Model to be Expanded
In August, Huizar issued a City Council motion to allocate $200,000 in CD14 discretionary monies to support leadership of a City/County/Community (C-3) intensive five-days-a-week service outreach effort in Skid Row, expected to launch in October.
L.A. County Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Solis are providing an additional $100,000 each. The $3-$4 million C-3 program is based on the street-level, service-outreach model first proposed by Councilmember Huizar, partnering with Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, during the City’s Operation Healthy Streets cleanup efforts. Through Councilmember Huizar’s leadership, the City’s Operation Healthy Streets was expanded in 2014 to include vital County medical, mental health, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and housing services.
In Northeast Los Angeles, outreach efforts that CD14 has actively supported have surveyed more than 150 homeless individuals, resulting in at least a dozen who are able to be immediately housed.
In the next few months, the Homelessness & Poverty Committee aims to cover important areas of policy and resource needs, such as:
- How the City can better tap into County resources aimed at those in need of mental health treatment;
- How to support and empower city staff who regularly interact with the homeless, such as librarians and parks employees;
- Funding needs to develop adequate housing for the homeless; and
Improvements to governance through Councilmember Huizar’s motion to create a “Homeless Czar” position in City to act as a consistent City central coordinator of homeless activities.