The Board of Supervisors approved a total of $101 million in funding Tuesday for programs aimed at helping the homeless as part of its final adjustments to the county’s 2015-16 budget.
The board doubled its original $50 million commitment to housing and other initiatives designed to help the homeless. The supervisors also approved $1 million to pay moving costs for homeless veterans.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said the board had a “moral imperative” to provide aid, citing the “new dynamics” of homelessness.
Skyrocketing rents and wages hit by years of recession “means even preschool teachers, medical assistants, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and many others with full-time jobs cannot afford to live in Los Angeles County,” Ridley-Thomas said.
“The most vulnerable — those with mental or physical disabilities and drug or alcohol addiction, and who lack family support — are the hardest hit,” he said.
Supervisor Hilda Solis hailed the funding as an example of the board’s ability to work together despite ideological differences.
The additional $50 million in one-time funding will support future strategies recommended by a working group that includes representatives from more than 20 county departments. The group is expected to make recommendations to the board in February.
The board also approved Solis’ proposal to open some homeless shelters six weeks earlier this winter and keep them open 24 hours a day during major storms.
Solis said the schedule change was critical given the threat of a record- setting El Nino event.
“Recent storms felt throughout the county were mild in comparison to the potential devastation an El Nino event could cause this winter,” Solis said, noting some people had to be rescued from rushing water near Cypress Park and in Pomona and South El Monte during recent heavy rainfall.
“We need to be prepared and offer our most vulnerable shelter so they won’t sleep in riverbeds, where they face the possibility of being swept away by strong currents,” she said.
The plan covers 600 beds to be made available from Oct. 15 to March 15. That is nearly 40 percent of the roughly 1,520 winter shelter beds in a program run by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and includes all of the beds paid for by Los Angeles County.
— City News Service
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