More county families may realize permanent housing opportunities
OW Staff Writer | 6/16/2017, midnight
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved wide-ranging set of recommendations this week to combat homelessnesscommitting to spend an estimated $266 million over the next 12 months.
Chief Executive Officer Sachi Hamai said the county's plan will move 45,000 families and individuals into permanent housing over the next five years and prevent another 30,000 from falling into homelessness.
The funding comes from a quarter-cent sales tax increase approved by voters in March. The tax will take effect Oct. 1, but Homeless Initiative
Director Phil Ansell said the services approved by the board would get underway July 1.
The recommendations represent a hard-won consensus of a working group of 50 representatives of public and private organizations, as well as feedbackfrom public hearings, Ansell said. Strategies include outreach, crisis housing, permanent housing and prevention.
The vote comes less than two weeks after the release of the latest count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority showing a 23 percent increase in homelessness countywide since 2016.
Chris Ko, director of homeless initiatives for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, remains optimistic despite those numbers.
“We find them daunting, but we are not daunted,'' Ko told the board. During an earlier rally outside the Hall of Administration, Ko said the strategies for fighting homelessness struck a balance between providing immediate relief and developing longer-term, holistic solutions.
In addition to a unanimous vote in favor of the working group's proposals, the supervisors signed off on several related motions and amendments, which include finding funding for at least 200 beds of crisis housing for female victims of domestic violence, help for homeless college students and child care for working homeless residents.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell, speaking for the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs' Association, called for more funding for law enforcement outreach to mentally ill homeless individuals.
“This is a bottom-line community policing philosophy,'' McDonnell said. “We all have to work together on this.”
Supervisor Hilda Solis agreed.
“Not all of them are there to put handcuffs on people,'' Solis said of the many law enforcement officers who know the people on the street and refer them to mental health teams and other resources. Even with hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding for the next 10 years, major challenges remain.
Building new housing will require “pushing back “nimbyism' (not in my backyard) ... to house our brothers and sisters,” said Ann Sewill of the California Community Foundation.
Developers are battling neighborhood opposition in Venice and at least one proposed project was effectively shot down by San Pedro residents.
“People want to address it, but aren't sure that they want to address it in their backyard,'' Supervisor Janice Hahn said.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger said the board would have to do its own extensive outreach to change attitudes in the communities they represent.
Barger said she tells residents: `These individuals are already living in the community. The question is whether we're going to give them a roof over their heads.”