Working together to end homelessness

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In January, I sponsored the East Valley Town Hall on Homelessness at Los Angeles Valley College in Valley Glen. More than 400 of my constituents came to discuss the defining issue of our time in Los Angeles.

In our city alone, there are more than 34,000 homeless individuals, and 75 percent of them lack shelter. To put things in perspective, only four percent of the homeless population actually lives in Council District 2, but that relatively small number doesn’t take away from the need to resolve the crisis.

The root causes of homelessness are many, including a lack of infrastructure to deal with chronic mental health issues, and the extreme housing affordability crisis. Drug addiction, low paying jobs and domestic violence are other major drivers.

Although we can identify causes, it’s proven much harder to find solutions. Homelessness isn’t confined to our city; it stretches throughout the entire county. At the Town Hall, representatives of various agencies and non-profits offered their insights on what’s happening in the fight to end homelessness, including about specific programs and strategies, the challenges they face and how community members can get involved.

Our panel of experts discussed what their organizations are doing to chip away at homelessness and then answered dozens of questions submitted by those at the event. Panelists included Peter Lynn, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority or LAHSA; Jerry Ramirez, Manager of LA County’s Homeless Initiative; Meg Barclay, the Homeless Coordinator for the City of Los Angeles; John Horn, Chief Impact Officer with the non-profit service provider, LA Family Housing; LAPD Commander Dominic Choi; Gita O’Neill, Director of Homelessness Policies and Strategies with the LA City Attorney’s office; and Gonzalo Barriga, Senior Environmental Inspector with LA Sanitation’s Clean Streets Program.

Each expert got down to the nitty-gritty of what the city and county are doing to alleviate homelessness. They discussed why it’s so tough to remove homeless encampments, what legal restrictions the city faces when dealing with the homeless in parks and RVs, how the LAPD is protecting neighborhoods and assisting people in need, what Los Angeles is doing to build more permanent supportive housing and shelters and much more.

Before we ended, I urged people to volunteer at an upcoming Homeless Connect Day sponsored by my office and appealed for people to embrace the Safe Parking Program that we’ll soon implement in Council District 2. Under the program, the city partners with places of worship and local businesses to designate overnight parking locations for the homeless, thus removing these vehicles from neighborhoods and local streets.

Much of the feedback I received about the Town Hall has been positive. By and large, people appreciated the information and opportunity to get answers to their questions from those who deal with this issue day in and day out.

If you missed the Town Hall, or want to re-watch it, visit PaulKrekorian.org.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on Job Creation, represents Council District 2, which includes North Hollywood, Studio City, Valley Village and other communities in the East Valley.

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