Skid Row. Photo by Jorobeq/CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Skid Row. Photo by Jorobeq/CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Los Angeles city and county are combining to expand homeless outreach teams on skid row, intending to cut the area’s long- entrenched population by 25 percent this year, officials said.

City Councilman Jose Huizar has filed a motion asking that $200,000 of his discretionary funds go to hiring a logistical manager to set up four six- person teams of mental health, medical and substance abuse professionals operating in the streets five days a week, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis are each contributing $100,000 to pay for clinical oversight of the teams, which will provide treatment, housing assistance and other services, a Ridley-Thomas spokeswoman told the newspaper.

The outreach teams began every-other-month visits to skid row a year ago but were quickly overwhelmed by the downtown area’s swelling homeless population, the most concentrated in the U.S, Marc Trotz, director of the county’s Housing for Health program, told The Times.

Four months ago the teams began weekly forays, but it still wasn’t enough, he said. Los Angeles police counted 1,900 homeless people on skid row in June, approaching a record for the 50-block district.

Trotz told The Times that the total budget for the expansion, including in-kind personnel support from county departments, approaches $3 million and is expected to grow as the county considers additional services, including sober centers, an outreach hub, enhanced recuperative care programs and transitional housing.

Organizers hope to launch the expansion by the end of September, he said.

“We do hope skid row looks very different in six months, in a year,” added Huizar said, according to The Times.

The outreach expansion comes as Mayor Eric Garcetti prepares to release a “battle plan” for ending homelessness in the city. It includes $1.35 million to further expand outreach teams in hard-hit neighborhoods, including skid row, Garcetti spokeswoman Connie Llanos said in an email to The Times.

—City News Service

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