Barger and Stakeholders Respond to Recommendations from Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness

Today, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and other stakeholders with prominent roles in the fight against homelessness in L.A. County reacted to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness’ (BRCH) formal completion and adoption of its report on how homeless services should be governed.

“I commend the BRCH for its commitment to the very complex task of taking a hard look at how homeless organizations and systems are directed and coordinated,” stated Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “I co-authored the motion that created the BRCH because what we’re doing in L.A. County is failing. Our rising homeless count numbers prove that. The tents that line our streets prove that. Thousands of individuals in distress prove that. We have more than a hundred public, community-based, faith-based and non-profit organizations dedicated to providing services to people experiencing homelessness, and millions of Measure H dollars in our coffers to fund the work, but our region continues to fall short.”

“The recommendations proposed are pragmatic and visionary. I’m a strong supporter of giving all 88 cities in L.A. County a seat at the table. They deserve a fair opportunity to receive a greater share of Measure H dollars so they can fund housing solutions that work for their neighborhoods. I’m a firm believer that to effectively manage a crisis, there must be a lead entity at the helm. We are in desperate need of a single and accountable County entity that is empowered to lead homeless services coordination and is resourced to do so. The devil’s in the details, but the truth is, the County is one of the leading sources of homeless services and support, yet it lacks the organizational infrastructure needed to effectively manage and oversee the delivery of its funds and services. The BRCH’s thoughtful and methodical review of multiple sources have come to this powerful conclusion. Thanks to its efforts, our County’s Board of Supervisors can now deliberate and take action. We can’t afford to miss this window of opportunity to create change and embrace reform.”

Reverend Andy Bales, Chief Executive Officer of Union Rescue Mission and member of the Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority (LAHSA) Commission, provided his reaction to the BRCH’s recommendations and his perspective on the County, City of L.A. and LAHSA’s current approach to providing homelessness services.

“The BRCH’s recommendations are informative and sorely needed. I see firsthand the urgent crisis we’re facing. Four people die each day of complications of homelessness in L.A. County. These are deaths mostly caused by overdose,” Bales stated. “While I have found LAHSA’s executive staff and commissioners to be  hard-working professionals deeply committed to doing their very best…we need reform at a governance level now. LAHSA, the County and City of L.A. have hampered their effectiveness by limiting themselves to a narrow scope of homelessness solutions. What’s sorely missing is the opportunity to creatively coordinate immediate triage care, mental health support, innovative affordable housing and the creation of recovery communities. That’s how we’ll be able to dig ourselves out of the mess we’re currently witnessing and living in.”

“I support County officials…creatively reallocating Measure H funding to invest in coordinated life changing initiatives mentioned in the BRCH’s recommendations. We cannot continue to slowly develop ultra-expensive units for a few, while tens of thousands of precious souls are left to die on our streets.”

Marcel Rodarte, Executive Director of the California Contract Cities Association, who served as a member of the BRCH also weighed in with his perspective.

“It was an honor to serve as a representative for cities across L.A. County on the BRCH. Today’s vote was the culmination of countless hours of hard work and research on how we can improve the delivery of services and resources to our homeless population,” said Rodarte. “Making funding available to cities with the flexibility they need to address homelessness is imperative. I cannot stress enough how much that is presently needed. Cities have housing solutions – these are thoughtful community-informed plans. Why shouldn’t these be part of the equation that our region will support and fund to address homelessness?”

“We need accountability of how homeless services are being provided and an effective way to evaluate them. It’s a widely accepted management adage that ‘what gets measured gets done’, so let’s put this practice into place so we can systematically evaluate what’s working, what isn’t and how quickly we’re delivering results  in the fight against homelessness. I stand by the unanimous BRCH recommendations issued today to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.  They are a testament to the widely agreed upon need to adjust our current approach to this ongoing epidemic. The recommendations provide a path forward.”

Barger, Bales and Rodarte are available today for media interviews. Click here to view their contact information.

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Background

After an intensive six month research process, the Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness (BRCH) has proposed seven key recommendations to improve the way the County and its partners help people experiencing homelessness. A full copy of the report and more information on BRCH is available at brch.lacounty.gov. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will review and vote on which recommendations to enact when it convenes in the coming weeks.

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