THE EASTSIDER - Eureka! LA County now has the solution for homelessness. If you believe in the tooth fairy.
LA City and County governments have so far demonstrated an ability to make the homeless situation worse, not better. Particularly the County. Witness their walking away from a recent legal settlement:
It appears that the County of Los Angeles has decided to litigate instead of signing on to the deal. This is big, not only politically, but in terms of programs and dollars. The County has the action in terms of the support services designed to get the homeless reintegrated back into the community and no longer homeless.
Also, remember, the County is the biggest slice of LAHSA’s budget, as I wrote here.
“Anyhow, LAHSA’s revised 2020-2021 Budget is a whopping $591 million. That’s over 1/2 a billion dollars for one year. Their main revenue sources are the Feds (5.6%), State of California (15.4%), County of Los Angeles (56.6%), and the City of Los Angeles (22.3%)”.
It defies logic that having the biggest chunk of LAHSA’s funding refuse to participate in the agreement, doesn’t kill the reality of resolving the underlying homeless problems. Current levels are clearly not working, and by choosing litigate rather than deal cripples the deal.
When I last wrote about the Homeless in Citywatch, you could see the meltdown of LAHSA, the joint City/County entity in charge of homelessness. That article is here. One takeaway was that with the County bailing out of the Homeless Settlement and suing, things are going to get worse.
“Anyhow, by declining to adhere to the agreement, there are some two whole pages of obligations and agreements that LA County refuses to implement (Section 9, County Obligations)”. The document then goes on to generally describe the County’s obligations as:
The parties agree to cooperate in ensuring County meets its obligations to provide services to persons experiencing homelessness within the City, and to fostering County-developed or County-funded housing and treatment services for PEH, including medium- and high-acuity need PEH suffering from illness, physical, mental or behavioral health issues, substance use disorder, and/or other factors used to determine acuity.”
Instead, we got a new motion based on a 7-point set of recommendations by yet another Blue Ribbon Commission.
The Last Minute Magic
Well, on Tuesday May 3rd, the Board of Supervisors guaranteed failure, with yet another massive undertaking buried in a revision to the May 3 Agenda:
“Implement the Recommendations of the Blue-Ribbon Commission on Homelessness
Revised recommendation as submitted by Supervisors Barger and Solis: Adopt the seven Blue-Ribbon Commission on Homelessness (BRCH) recommendations; direct the Chief Executive Officer to maximize continuity of analysis and implementation of BRCH recommendations by working in consultation with the Executive Director of the Blue-Ribbon Commission on Homelessness and staff, as well as any subject matter experts, as necessary, until such time that the County has established the new County entity and appointed a leader of such entity or as otherwise determined by the Board; and report back to the Board quarterly, with written status reports on the implementation of the following actions:
Instruct the Chief Executive Officer and BRCH staff to take the following actions and report back to the Board in writing quarterly on the status:”
Predictably, the LA Times gave this punt a pass:
“The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to create a new office or department that would coordinate the county’s response to the homelessness crisis in the region.
The new entity would have authority over various agencies — including the county’s departments of health services, social services and mental health — and would report directly to the Board of Supervisors.
In a divided vote, the supervisors called for the county chief executive to return with recommendations on the specific powers and structure of the new office. Among the options to be considered were modeling it after the county Office of Emergency Management, which coordinates county agencies during emergencies or elevating the Homeless Initiative, which currently manages homeless funds from the Measure H sales tax”.
The Recent History
Let’s examine how we got to Tuesday’s vote. Back in July of 2021, the County established a “Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness”. Well sure, back then the heat was on as both the City and County were totally unable to cope with the scary numbers of homeless, as well as outrage from voters who didn’t want tents, drugs, and violence on the sidewalks where they live.
Of course. LAHSA’s been around in one form or another sine 2016, although I’m told that the Board of Supervisors considered doing them in a couple of years ago. As I wrote in February.
“Regarding the success of our governmental agencies, both City and County, to manage or improve homelessness, clearly we are failing. In my attempts to follow the money, a good case can be made that the real beneficiaries of over 1/2 a billion dollars is in fact the bureaucracy, such as the Providers and the Contractors that LAHSA funds. The homeless themselves are still out there in record numbers, with the City Council deciding to demonize them with their draconian Municipal Code sweeping them off the streets with no real solutions in sight.
It is also not reassuring that the public agencies and those they fund will not come out and respond to questions regarding how they work and how the system spends our taxpayer money. Of course I’d still love to talk to them.
Politically, its important since this is a big year for elections, including the 1st and 3rd Districts of the LA County Board of Supervisors, as well as over half of the City of Los Angles politicos, including the Mayor.
It would be nice to see any of them come up with a realistic plan to help those unfortunate enough to wind up living on our streets.”
The Blue-Ribbon Commission of Homelessness
As posted in the Revised motion by Kathryn Barger and Hilda Solis, “The goal of BRCH was to provide a factually compelling and actionable recommendations reflecting the urgency for refined governance models that can deliver improved and accelerated results incorporating the diverse needs of the Los Angeles region, its 88 cities, and the unincorporated communities of the County.”
If you don’t believe me, check out the full 112 page Report and Recommendations from the BRCH Committee, which you can find here.
I’ll save you the time, and simply list the recommendations from the Amended Motion by Barger and Solis.
1) Establish a County Entity and Identify a Leader
2) Measure H/Local Solutions
3) Streamline LAHSA
4) Continuation of Care Leadership
5) Improve LAHSA Operations
6) Data and Metrics
7) Executive Level Action Team
I’m not sure why Kathryn Barger cosponsored the motion. I assume that she knows the system is failing big time and is looking for options. The problem, of course, is that this motion is for the framework for a framework which simply guarantees that everyone loses in the near term.
Hilda Solis, however, is another matter. Even though there are a number of people running against her, the smart money says she will win it in the Primary. You know, the Hilda Solis who’s going to destroy Eagle Rock Blvd through her position on Metro. She knows exactly what she’s doing, in a bid for her third and final 4-year term. Win this term and she’s home free until retirement.
The reality is that LA City and County governments are failing miserably in any real solutions for both the homeless and the rest of us who live here. This just kicks the can down the road some more.
To try and be positive, I guess one good thing came out of the Report. On page 6-7, there is a listing of 38 providers, after no one at LAHSA would give me a list while trying to write these articles. Thanks :-)
(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.)