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Los Angeles Leader Steps Up On Homelessness Crisis
On any given night, 115,000 people are homeless in California. It is the largest homeless population in the United States. In an exclusive interview with The Planning Report, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas discusses his personal efforts to address Los Angeles’ 50,000 homeless individuals through working on rapid rehousing and increasing social services. Over the past year, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has used his platform to push (unsuccessfully) Governor Jerry Brown to establish a state of emergency for homelessness, opening up critical funding for rapid rehousing and mental health services.
“The polling is clear, stated Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, "whether they were done by Republicans or Democrats did not make any difference—it was made abundantly clear that homelessness is the top-tier issue for the people of this county.”
In response, the City of Los Angeles has put Proposition HHH on the November ballot, a measure that would allow the city to borrow money—by issuing bonds—and pay off that debt with a new property tax on commercial and residential properties. Sup. Ridley-Thomas has endorsed Prop. HHH and is working to create an additional funding stream that would help address shortages in providing mental health and clinical services to individuals transitioning into housing. Sup. Ridley-Thomas outlined his plans to “aim toward the March 2017 ballot with a quarter-cent sales tax… [to] address the services gap—mental health services and recuperative care. Multidisciplinary teams will go out into the community to do the work that is so desperately needed and is so conspicuously absent.”
While discussing current activities to address homelessness, Sup. Ridley-Thomas highlighted the success of the new C3 Teams that have started on Skid Row. Integrated Street Engagement Teams, or C3 Teams, are an innovative county-city-community (C3) partnership that consists of four teams of multidisciplinary individuals.
Sup. Ridley-Thomas explains that on Skid Row, “the Department of Health Services uses C3 to engage, assist and house the 2,000 persons living on the streets. Each C3 team has a nurse, substance use counselor, mental health clinician, peer with lived experience, and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority outreach worker.”
The results are pretty impressive already. Over the last six months, four C3 integrated teams in Skid Row have conducted daily outreach/engagement and assisted 772 unsheltered homeless residents. 370 persons have been connected to interim housing, a couple hundred are in process for permanent supportive housing, and more than 50 people have received keys and moved into their own housing with services attached.
Sup. Ridley-Thomas’ message is one that Los Angeles citizens are agreeing with, no matter where they fall on the development initiatives currently being publically litigated. As he puts it: “Building new buildings is insufficient. You have to have services in order for people to begin to regain their footing and be constructive contributors to their respective communities.”
Read more about Los Angeles’ next steps to meaningfully reduce homelessness in The Planning Report.
- Community / Economic Development
- Government / Politics
- Social / Demographics
- Urban Development
- Los Angeles
- The Planning Report
- Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
- Proposition HHH
- Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
- rapid rehousing
- mental health services
- Homelessness State of Emergency