Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who chairs the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, introduced a proposal Thursday to unify city and county efforts to end homelessness through an intergovernmental panel of elected officials from both entities.
The panel would “provide timely and regular input on governance of the homelessness system,” according to Ridley-Thomas’ proposal. The panel’s creation was recommended by LAHSA, and Ridley-Thomas’ proposal comes after the Homelessness and Poverty Committee reviewed reports by LAHSA, the Los Angeles Chief Legislative Analyst, the county Chief Executive Officer and the Committee for A Greater L.A.
“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.”
An estimated 41,000 people experiencing homelessness reside in the city of Los Angeles, which is more than 60% of the county’s homeless 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 L.A. 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.”
The plan was seconded by Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez and was supported by the committee, which moved 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 include:
— 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 with the second half of his evaluation on Friday.