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Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas Puts Forward Proposal To Unite City And County Efforts To End Homelessness

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -  The chair of City Council's Homelessness and Poverty Committee, Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, introduced a proposal Thursday that would unify city and county efforts to end homelessness.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas casts his vote
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 03: Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas speaks to the press after casting his vote at Hot and Cool Cafe in Leimert Park on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA. Mark Ridley-Thomas is running against attorney Grace Yoo for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council that is vacated by Councilman Herb Wesson. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Ridley-Thomas' proposal, if adopted, would create an intergovernmental panel of elected officials from both city and county governments.

The recommendation for an intergovernmental panel, which would "provide timely and regular input on governance of the homelessness system," according to Ridley-Thomas' proposal, came from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. The councilman's plan came on the heels of the Homelessness and Poverty Committees review of reports by LAHSA, the Los Angeles Chief Legislative Analyst, the county Chief Executive Officer and the Committee for A Greater LA.

"The bottom line for me is this: If we are to be successful at meaningfully abating homelessness, the multiple institutions and jurisdictions responsible for responding to this civic and moral crisis must be aligned on the mission, goals and outcomes," Ridley-Thomas said. "However, if we are going to take an honest look in the mirror, we know that is simply not the case in Los Angeles. We need to do a hard reset to ensure we are aligned with our key partner, the county of Los Angeles."

In the City of LA, an estimated 41,000 people are experiencing homelessness, which is more than 60% of the county's unhoused population. For every 207 people who find their way back into housing each day, 227 others fall into homelessness.

Ridley-Thomas' proposal also calls for policy and finance experts within the city and county to create a LA City/County Reimagining Governance Action Plan to:

  • establish a mission, goals and metrics for measuring progress; provide recommendations on urgent operational changes, with an initial focus on establishing a unified Street Engagement and Outreach Strategy;
  • provide recommendations for an updated governance framework, including specific updates to the Joint Powers Agreement with LAHSA; and
  • advance updates to the city's homeless strategies.

"We need more direct, mutually accountable and transparent discussions between the leadership at the city and county on this issue to scale up our response and transition our unhoused neighbors off the streets. It would be my expectation that through this process, we can operationalize this with an urgency that is long overdue," Ridley-Thomas said. "I look forward to working with all entities involved and doubling down on this imperative work to establish a Right To Housing and ameliorate this unacceptable crisis."

Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez seconded the plan, which was also supported by the committee who voted to move the proposal to the full City Council for consideration.

The plan comes after the Los Angeles City Council heard the first half of the Chief Legislative Analyst's evaluation of LAHSA's structure
last Friday.

The CLA's John Wickham told council members that key problems within LAHSA included:

  • elected officials are not integrated into the center of the system;
  • the system is complex, which is partly necessary due to the complexity of the county, its political systems and population;
  • parts of the system have authority with no accountability; and
  • parts of the system are held accountable, but have no authority.

Wickham is scheduled to present council members the second half of his evaluation on Friday.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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