With extreme weather as a result of climate change continuing to impact the region, some of Los Angeles County’s most vulnerable populations are at-risk for dangerous conditions including dehydration, heat stroke, and other serious health problems. In response, today the Board of Supervisors passed a motion, authored by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and co-authored by Supervisor Barger, to proactively protect the lives of people experiencing homelessness by developing a coordinated emergency response to extreme weather events.
“Today’s action is a reminder that human-driven climate change is a constant reality, but it has its greatest impact on our homeless neighbors,” said Supervisor Solis. “With extreme weather conditions creating a new normal for all County residents, we must be better prepared to help our most vulnerable populations.”
“I’m proud to co-author this motion with Supervisor Solis in support of creating strategies to protect individuals experiencing homelessness during these extremely hot weather conditions,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. “We will be exploring ways to improve access to critical resources for unsheltered individuals – like cooling centers and expanded outreach efforts –over the next several months. I look forward to ongoing conversations to strategize how we can continually enhance our coordinated entry system to better support those experiencing homelessness, not just during the hot summers or cold winters, but each day of the year.”
Today’s motion directs the Homeless Initiative and the County’s Office of Emergency Management to work together to identify how homelessness service organizations can support the work of the County’s emergency service departments. For example, this review will also determine the feasibility of County-funded homelessness outreach teams, including Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Homeless Engagement Teams, to transport homeless clients to cooling centers. Furthermore, a comprehensive multi-agency effort will lead to the development of a disaster response plan to provide assistance outside regular business hours to those living in at-risk homeless encampments. The motion includes a report back to the Board in 30 days.
“As the temperature is drastically higher during these summer months, it is critical that emergency services be offered and provided to our homeless neighbors,” said Reggie Clark, Program Manager of Volunteers of America of Greater Los Angeles. “Due to the heat wave we’ve been experiencing, many of our unsheltered homeless neighbors are having to endure very dangerous conditions. This action is an important step to offer our homeless neighbors the help they need to stay safe and out of harm’s way.”