But with homelessness still on the rise, new strategies are being rolled out to help the growing numbers of people experiencing homelessness.
Los Angeles County has housed about 80,000 people experiencing homelessness over the last five years – about 1.5 times the capacity of Dodger Stadium – and provided many more with shelter and services to help them get back on their feet.
But with homelessness still at crisis levels, driven by the severe affordable housing shortage, economic hardship exacerbated by the pandemic, structural racism, and other factors, the Board of Supervisors is weighing new approaches to tackling this complex societal issue.
It has approved a new framework of strategies proposed by the Homeless Initiative, which is part of the County’s Chief Executive Office, as well as the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness.
The separate reports have overlapping goals of ensuring accountability, streamlining and expanding housing and services, strengthening partnerships with cities and other stakeholders to develop additional solutions, and advancing equity.
“While Los Angeles County is housing more people and at a faster rate than ever before, we still have a lot of work to do keep pace with the number of people becoming homeless every day,” Homeless Initiative Executive Director Cheri Todoroff said.
“This proposed new framework is a natural evolution of what the Board of Supervisors started in 2015, when it declared homelessness a priority and approved the original action plan developed by the Homeless Initiative,” she added. “It builds on lessons learned over the years to develop a significantly scaled-up, streamlined, equitable, all-hands-on-deck response to a dynamic and deepening homeless crisis.”
The Homeless Initiative’s new framework of strategies calls for:
- maximizing the capacity of Mainstream Government Systems, such as the health and social services systems, to serve as the first and largest safety net for people who are vulnerable, especially those with housing insecurity. County Departments can help ensure there is “No Wrong Door” for people seeking help and use data driven approaches to identify and prioritize the most at-risk households to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place;
- ensuring that the County’s Homeless Rehousing System remains a system of last resort, focused primarily, but not exclusively, on helping people who have been persistently underserved, those with the most complex challenges who require ongoing, focused and resource-heavy interventions to help them get off the streets and into housing;
- forging stronger partnerships with Cities, including by co-investing with them and leveraging their local influence to develop more permanent housing, and by coordinating with them to provide pathways to housing and services when encampments are being decommissioned; and
- advancing Racial Equity across policymaking, planning, funding, and implementation.
Meanwhile, the Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness recommended:
- Create a County entity and identify a leader that can unify the work product of various agencies and eliminate existing silos to create a more transparent and effective response that fully incorporates mainstream systems
- Renew and re-start relationships with cities and Councils of Government by establishing a multi-year local solutions fund available for jurisdictions that will commit to providing in-kind or matching contributions for the development of service programs and/or housing
- Streamline LAHSA by re-focusing the authority back on its primary role as lead of the Greater Los Angeles Continuum of Care (CoC), and transition away from providing direct services in order for the above recommended County entity to coordinate immediate access to direct services. In the interim, maintain the current number of seats on the LAHSA Commission but change who sits in them (e.g., County department heads, those with lived expertise, Councils of Governments, or city representatives)
- Simplify CoC governance into one cohesive board by beginning the process to consolidate the LAHSA Commission, CoC Board, and Coordinated Entry System Policy Council into a single decision-making entity
- Improve LAHSA’s operations immediately by, among other recommendations, embedding an “Ops Team” to maximize LAHSA’s internal effectiveness
- Demand data and metrics excellence by requiring data sharing between cities, the County, and LAHSA. Define and implement metrics of success, track equity goals, and establish tools for accountability. Develop formulas for tracking, in a more comprehensive manner, Measure H funding and other funds supporting people experiencing homelessness
- Establish an executive-level action team to drive urgently needed reforms, discuss issues of common interest, and facilitate data development and sharing.