The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Commission Friday unanimously selected Heidi Marston as its executive director.
“Heidi Marston is the exact person we want to reform an entrenched system. She’s brave, energetic and unflappable,” LAHSA Commission Chair Sarah Dusseault said. “She has a commanding mastery of the details of how a bold homeless services system should work.
“She came to LAHSA for a challenge and relentlessly led our unprecedented COVID-19 response, housing thousands of seniors in weeks. She will continue the momentum of systemic change and racial justice.”
LAHSA was established in 1993 as the lead agency for the Los Angeles Continuum of Care, which coordinates housing and other support for the homeless as well as the Point-In-Time count of that population. The agency manages the spending of more than $300 million of federal, state, county and city funds to provide shelter and other services.
Peter Lynn was in charge of overseeing the operations of LAHSA for five years as well as delivering the agency’s reports on the county’s rising homeless population until he resigned in December.
Marston’s appointment was lauded by Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“We have made incredible progress toward housing and programs to help our homeless neighbors, and this public health crisis has shown us what we can accomplish when we act urgently together,” Garcetti said. “Heidi Marston’s leadership has helped us save lives, and I know she is the right person to lead LAHSA forward.”
Marston has served as interim executive director since December; she was originally hired by LAHSA as its chief program officer in February 2019.
She previously worked at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in several roles, including director of Community Engagement and Reintegration Services and special assistant to the VA Secretary under President Barack Obama.
According to LAHSA, in Marston’s 16 months at the authority, she has presided over the adoption of a new strategic plan that is currently realigning a “broadly reconfigured” homeless services system focused on outreach and rehousing, and working in clearly defined partnerships on the roles of prevention and housing creation.
In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic Marston led the agency to coordinate the expansion of the shelter system, the temporary housing of vulnerable people in hotel rooms through Project Roomkey, and sustained outreach and aid to people living on the street.
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