Homeless count shows progress and promise

LOS ANGELES COUNTY – The overall 4 percent homeless count decrease, released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) shows that the county is making progress in its effort to address the homelessness crisis – but we “have a lot of work to do,” announced Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

“The numbers are promising in the fact that there are significant reductions in homelessness among veterans and the chronically homeless,” she said. “In my district, there is an estimated 25 percent decrease overall – much of this can be attributed to increases in housing placements and an uptick in the coordination between county agencies and community-based providers.”

Supervisor Barger also initiated the opening of 24-hour shelter in Lancaster, which provides bridge housing support and other critical service in conjunction with the Salvation Army. In addition, she is supporting the development of a year-round crisis housing facility in Santa Clarita and permanent supportive housing across the district. She credits the cities in her district, which have joined forces with the county to address the needs in their individual municipalities.

“In the Antelope Valley, and across the district, leaders and communities have come on board in a very significant way,” she added. “This gives us hope and strengthens our resolve to ensure that Measure H funding is fully utilized to provide housing and services to those in need.”

“Clearly, there is a significant percentage of individuals suffering from mental illness among the homeless population – and access to health care is a vital component to help them reestablish productive lives,” she added.

Yesterday, the State Assembly passed AB 1971, a proposal for a change in state law spearheaded by Supervisors Barger and Ridley-Thomas. The legislation amends the state’s definition of “gravely disabled” to include medical treatment as a basic human need for those suffering from a serious mental illness. AB 1971 was jointly authored by Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), and Phillip Chen (R-Brea) and now moves to the California State Senate, where it will await a committee hearing.