According to the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, 40 percent of people experiencing homelessness across Los Angeles County are African American, while this community comprises only 9 percent of the county’s total population.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Commission has recognized the need to dedicate focused resources and attention to better understand and address this disproportionality. The recently appointed Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness will lead this effort. The committee will meet at LAHSA, 2-4 p.m., on the third Monday of each month through September. The first meeting was conducted on Monday.

LAHSA Commissioner Jacqueline Waggoner, committee chair, and Commissioner Kelli Bernard, vice chair, lead a contingent of service providers, community advocates, affordable housing developers, city and county agencies, people with lived experience, faith leaders, and related subject experts who will offer advice to help stem the growing homeless crisis among African Americans in Los Angeles County.

“We’re working to ensure that systems and practices do not perpetuate the hardships faced by Black people experiencing homelessness, who were disproportionately represented in previous homeless counts,” Waggoner said. “The committee will examine the barriers Black people face when trying to exit homelessness by accessing services and housing.”

“Our committee will not only provide recommendations for increasing equity within the homeless service delivery system, but also provide a baseline and clear metrics for evaluating our progress,” Bernard explained. “The ongoing work, findings, and recommendations will be shared publicly and serve as a foundation to drive improvements.”

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is a joint powers authority of the City and County of Los Angeles, created in 1993 to address the problems of homelessness in Los Angeles County. LAHSA is the lead agency in the HUD-funded Los Angeles Continuum of Care, and coordinates and manages more than $257 million annually in federal, state, county, and city funds for programs providing shelter, housing, and services to homeless persons. For more information visit www.lahsa.org.