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LA councilmember wants a city homelessness department for a more effective response

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CBS News Los Angeles Live

A Los Angeles City Council member is advocating for the city to have its own department of homelessness, to consolidate and focus efforts on the issue.

Los Angeles Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez is lobbying Tuesday for a new department to create and oversee programs that address the homelessness crisis.  The department would report to Mayor Karen Bass and the City Council, she said.

The councilwoman introduced a motion on the matter Friday as a first step in the process. The motion will be heard by the Housing and Homelessness Committee at a future date.

"A Department of Homelessness can help verify what each level of government is doing to solve the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time; I cannot say with certainty that we have an efficient and effective operation free of redundancies," Rodriguez said.  

Rodriguez said current policies and programs are currently dispersed among too many entities, making it "impossible" for the city to apply lessons learned from successful approaches.

She said systemic factors pose challenges to institutionalizing existing successful models or new ones governing the city's $1.3 billion investment into its homeless response.

The City Administrative Officer, the Housing Department and the mayor's office each dedicate significant staff time and resources to managing "overlapping homelessness interventions," she said.

"Within this system, determined efforts to evaluate city-funded homelessness programs often run aground, as the providers of services produce irregular and imprecise reporting on contractually-obligated metrics and outcomes," the motion reads.

The councilwoman said, in effect, this system places barriers between city oversight and city-funded services.

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