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LA County Board of Supervisors to enact 3-goal strategy addressing homelessness

A street in Westwood is pictured. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to take action on the county’s local emergency declaration and approved recommendations made by District 3 Supervisor Lindsey Horvath. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Matthew Royer

Feb. 12, 2023 11:05 p.m.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to take action on the county’s local emergency declaration on homelessness.

The board will adopt the recommendations of District 3 Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, whose district includes UCLA and Westwood, and District 5 Supervisor Kathryn Barger. The changes adopted by the supervisors ensure the execution of the board’s Jan. 10 declaration of a state of emergency, following Mayor Karen Bass’ state of emergency on homelessness announcement in December.

According to the board’s declaration, the strategy focuses on three separate goals: encampment resolution, housing and services for people with mental health disorders, and addressing substance abuse. The board also noted that the groundwork will be executed using the county’s anti-racism, diversity and inclusion tools. The tools aim to avoid large disparities in public safety, housing and mental wellness when distributing resources through policy.

This is intended to expedite existing programs recommended to the county by public officials, including providing the funding to staff departments directly working with the homeless population in LA County, supplying direct services to people facing mental health crises, and pinpointing and renovating locations to develop into temporary and long-term housing centers, according to the declaration.

Horvath, who presented the motion to the board, said in the meeting that she submitted the agenda item for consideration because of its close relationship with other crises in LA, such as the need for tenant protection.

“Although these improvements may seem technical in nature, their result will have a very tangible immediate impact on our ability to face the crisis before us,” Horvath said during the meeting.

Barger said the motion is necessary for a swift distribution of county funding for unhoused services and highlighted the importance of accountability in resource allocation. She added that her goal for the provisions is to eventually establish a department for unhoused services in the county and advocate for federal law changes to improve ways of implementing mental health services.

The board also voted to approve a budget of more than $600 million in funding to provide housing and assistance to people affected by homelessness. The board also approved a motion to explore expansions to tenant protections put in place by the county. A board-ordered report detailing investigators’ findings on a possible expansion of protections is due within 45 days.

Andrew Lewis, vice president of the North Westwood Neighborhood Council, said he welcomed the changes as there have long been calls for the city to tackle the issue of homelessness. He added that the changes the supervisors made to their original declaration will benefit the Westwood community and address the overlooked needs of people suffering from homelessness across the county.

“It’s overdue, to be honest,” Lewis said. “I think something like this should have happened decades or two ago – an emergency declaration on homelessness and speeding up all the processes – but I’m glad it’s happening now.”

The changes to the emergency declaration will allow for funding to be distributed to better support local street-based outreach workers in the county to address the unique challenges facing each neighborhood.

An important part of the supervisors’ efforts was the consideration of expanding tenant protections, Lewis said.

“That’s kind of been the overlooked and missing piece,” Lewis said. “We were just not acting strong enough on tenant protections from the city-county standpoint, and there was just a constant flow of people newly emerging into housing precarity.”

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Matthew Royer | National news and higher education editor
Royer is the 2023-2024 national news and higher education editor. He is also a Sports staff writer on the men’s soccer and softball beats. He was previously the 2022-2023 city and crime editor and a contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a fourth-year political science student minoring in labor studies from West Hills, California.
Royer is the 2023-2024 national news and higher education editor. He is also a Sports staff writer on the men’s soccer and softball beats. He was previously the 2022-2023 city and crime editor and a contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a fourth-year political science student minoring in labor studies from West Hills, California.
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