The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday took the first step in creating a commission with representatives who are experiencing homelessness to get their feedback on city programs and policies related to their situations.
Councilman Mike Bonin, who first proposed creating the commission in September, said the city has created various beneficial advisory committees and commissions in the last several years for people who have “remained too voiceless and too unheard in Los Angeles.”
“The idea here is to create a Commission on Lived Experience with Homelessness that is at the level that can be advisory to us as policymakers and to the city of Los Angeles and the mayor,” Bonin said. “It is very difficult sometimes for us to really understand what is being experienced on the street.”
The council voted unanimously, 14-0, to have city staff make recommendations on the size and scope of such a commission.
Bonin said prior to the creation of the A Bridge Home shelter program, the city’s emergency winter shelter program was not an “effective solution” to housing homeless people because they could not bring in all of their belongings and at times could not bring their pets or stay with their spouses.
“Once Los Angeles came to a better understanding of what all those barriers were by hearing from people who were living in those shelters … we created a much better program,” Bonin said. “People who are currently homeless or recently homeless … they can help us answer questions, give us information that we don’t have.”
Bonin said that in addition to experiences homeless people have been through, they could also provide feedback on the city’s CARE team cleanups, which the city does when encampments have become overrun with bulky items or need regular sanitation.
The cleanups have been a point of contention among homeless people and homeless advocacy groups who have said they are not beneficial to their situations. In January and February in Echo Park, several confrontations took place among homeless people and city park rangers and CARE team crew members.
Bonin said the commission needs to be reflective of the homeless population in Los Angeles, which would mean the council would disproportionately appoint more Black homeless people and survivors of domestic violence as commissioners.
The councilman also said the Liberty Hill Foundation has committed to offering training for commission members as well as a stipend for commission business.
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