Board of Supervisors Approves Barger Motion to Create a Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness

LOS ANGELES COUNTY — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger and coauthored by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis to create a Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness to assess existing structures and systems and provide recommendations on reforms that will help Los Angeles County and its 88 cities solve homelessness.

“Homelessness is a major crisis affecting our communities at every level and it’s time for sweeping changes to the system,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “This Blue Ribbon Commission will be critical to help the County, in partnership with our 88 cities, identify the reforms and changes needed and to move forward with actions that can finally help our vulnerable residents who are suffering on the streets.”

Stressing the urgency of this action, Supervisor Barger acknowledged that tragically, more than 740 unhoused individuals have already died this year – more than 100 additional deaths than this same time last year.

“The Blue-Ribbon Commission on Homelessness will synthesize everything we’ve learned about serving unhoused Angelenos and will provide the framework for building a transparent, inclusive, and accountable homeless governance system that ensures representation of all the appropriate stakeholders,” shared Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair, Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District. “The Commission finally gives our partner cities in the County a seat at the table to enhance collaboration and increase coordination among stakeholders to address homelessness.”

Supervisors Barger and Solis accepted a friendly amendment offered by Supervisor Janice Hahn to expand the makeup of the Commission. The approved composition includes 12 members: five of which will be appointed by each Supervisor; one nominated by the Mayor of Los Angeles; three nominated by the Los Angeles City Council President; two nominated by the Councils of Government; and one nominated by the Contract Cities Association. Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Sheila Kuehl opposed the motion and the friendly amendment offered.

“I am grateful for the outpouring of community support and advocacy to create the Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness,” Barger said. “Our cities and partners know this Commission will provide the urgent all-hands-on-deck approach this crisis requires.”

The Board of Supervisors recognized the need to reassess its homelessness services with multiple motions previously approved. Now the Board will move forward in partnership with the City of Los Angeles and the 87 other cities, along with key stakeholders, to develop specific proposals for the Board to consider.

Appointees to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness should be presented to the Board of Supervisors by August 10 and will convene immediately to begin their research and assessment of the existing homelessness governance reports and best practices from across the nation. They will review with County Counsel and the Chief Executive Office, the existing Joint Powers Authority that governs the County’s participation in the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, with an assessment of the articulated powers of the organization and its limitations; along with the fiscal and operational implications if the County renegotiates or withdraws from the LAHSA Joint Powers Authority altogether.

The Commission will develop its recommendations and report based on information shared during regularly scheduled meetings with relevant County departments and agencies, key stakeholders, service providers and local leaders. This will include briefings on the existing homelessness strategies funded by Measure H and the scope of its limitations; approaches suggested by the Departments of Regional Planning, Public Works, and the Los Angeles County Development Authority to increase affordable housing; and the effectiveness of existing mental health care and substance abuse services that are provided to people experiencing homelessness and strategies to improve these efforts.

The Commission will present its report to the Board of Supervisors within six months and then sunset.

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