“In March 2017, voters in Los Angeles County voted to tax themselves $355 million a year for 10 years to create a dedicated revenue stream to provide an array of services – including physical and mental health care, housing, job training, supportive services, and outreach – to the 53,195 people suffering from homelessness in our County, according to the new Homeless Count.
Homelessness is the defining moral crisis of our time, and I am grateful for the trust the voters have given us. I take their collective financial sacrifice seriously, as an investment in our shared future, and to demonstrate to all that no one in Los Angeles County will be ignored or left behind.
At LA County, we have not been afraid to try new and innovative strategies to help combat homelessness, such as a mobile shower program. We are increasing the number of highly skilled multidisciplinary outreach teams to provide services and direct them to where they are needed most. I have tapped First District funds to further enhance our impact: since the 2014-15 fiscal year, my office has directly allocated $7.4 million to homeless services, shelters, and community-based organizations who are on the front lines.
Each city has a unique perspective to bring to the discussion on solutions to homelessness, and I value each city’s point of view, challenges, and resources. That is why, last year, I led a motion that the Board approved allocating $2.6 million for regional coordination services by the COGs and homelessness planning grants for cities. I am encouraging local jurisdictions to build more affordable housing stock and shelters, such as the one being built in the City of Pomona. And at the Board of Supervisors, I led the effort to provide funding to local law enforcement for training and outreach. On the ground, I have seen positive outcomes in the lives we have touched through these initiatives.
Today’s Homeless Count numbers are an affirmation that we are on the right track, but there is much more work to be done.
While the double-digit percentage reduction of homelessness among the chronically homeless and homeless Veterans is a step in the right direction, I am heartbroken at the increase of the number of people experiencing homelessness for the first time and the increase in homelessness in the San Gabriel Valley, as well as the huge increase of seniors who are homeless. These seniors are our friends and neighbors, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, individuals who worked their entire lives, maybe served in the military or raised families, who may have lost their job or couldn’t pay their medical bills and had nowhere to turn except the streets. We must do more for the generation that has given our society so much.
In the First District, I am pleased to see some of the homeless populations that we have focused on, including transition aged youth (49% decrease), families (25% decrease), children in families (29% decrease), have seen significant reductions. However, Latinos (51% of the total homeless population in the First District) continue to be vastly overrepresented in homelessness. With the tremendously diverse and traditionally underserved communities in the First District, expanded funding and additional outreach and culturally-competent services for the Latino homeless population is needed.
As we face these continued challenges, my resolve to make homelessness a thing of the past has never been stronger. Thank you to the 8,500 volunteers who were able to make 2018 the most comprehensive Homeless Count in history. This Homeless Count, combined with data gathered by the County’s Department of Public Social Services, will improve our ability to target services to help those people who need it. Working collaboratively with our partners from the State of California and our 88 cities, Los Angeles County will continue to expand outreach and services, build more units of affordable housing, and lift our friends, families, and neighbors out of poverty and into a place they can call home.”
CONTACT: Michael Kapp, Communications Director, (213) 974-4111 or firstname.lastname@example.org