Dr. David Drew Pinsky, the celebrity better known as “Dr. Drew,” was pulled from consideration for Los Angeles’ commission on homelessness Monday after a campaign against his nomination by opponents who criticized his past statements on the causes and solutions to the homeless problem plaguing the county.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced Monday night that she had withdrawn her nomination of Pinsky for the 10-member Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
Barger said opposition to the nomination had become a distraction, but she still praised Pinsky as someone with a “passion for addressing these issues when a new voice is clearly needed.”
Pinsky did not immediately comment on the furor.
“As my proposed appointee to the LAHSA Commission, I brought forward Dr. Drew Pinsky — a respected medical doctor who offers decades of experience in mental health care and substance abuse treatment,” Barger said. “I knew that Dr. Drew would bring a new, forward-thinking approach and would help us address mental health and substance abuse as driving factors in the ongoing homelessness crisis. Unfortunately, the proposed appointment took away from these important conversations about care for people experiencing homelessness.
“We need to face the sad reality of homelessness in Los Angeles: individuals are dying on our streets from preventable causes due to mental illness and substance abuse,” Barger’s statement continued. “I hope we can move past pettiness and instead focus our time and energy on working to solve the hard problems, rather than looking for excuses to place blame.”
The nomination was expected to be presented to the county’s Board of Supervisors at its meeting Tuesday.
Pinsky gained fame in the 1990s with the syndicated radio show “Loveline,” which was later turned into a television show for MTV, and as producer and star of “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” on VH1.
He had lobbied for a spot on the commission, believing that his expertise in addiction treatment could help make a difference in the city’s approach to the homelessness issue.
But that approach turned off many observers. In addition to a #DumpDrDrew Twitter campaign, more than 100 people submitted public comments against his proposed nomination, many citing Pinsky’s past statements that mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction were major factors driving up the county’s homeless population.
“The nomination of a talk show celebrity to a LAHSA panel at a time when the homelessness crisis here is spiraling out of control, was simply offensive,” said Michael Weinstein, president of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, in a statement issued by the group and its housing advocacy arm, Housing Is A Human Right. “This is the governing body of homeless services, including housing for the homeless, in the county. Millions of struggling Angelenos are looking to LAHSA for leadership, and this was the best they had to offer? It was the right move to pull the nomination.”