LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Council President Nury Martinez and three other council members called Friday for a review of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s role in addressing the city’s homelessness crisis.
In a motion filed Friday, Martinez and councilmen Kevin de León, Curren Price and Paul Krekorian sought a report on the governance structure of LAHSA and how the city could increase direct oversight over homeless outreach and services. They also sought a strategy for the city to transition to its own system to coordinate services for unhoused individuals, along with possibly creating a department, office or division for in-house homeless services.
LAHSA was created in 1993 as an independent, joint powers authority by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles Mayor and City Council. It manages over $800 million in annual funding to provide homeless services, according to its website.
“As the homeless population, both sheltered and unsheltered, continues to grow, it is imperative that the City of Los Angeles look at the current structure of our agreement with LAHSA and assess if it is the best model to reduce the ongoing growth of the homeless population residing in our city,” the motion stated.
A spokesperson for LAHSA deferred comment to the council members who filed the motion.
The motion will come before the council’s Homelessness and Poverty committee, which is chaired by de León. A spokesperson for de León told City News Service that the motion “seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the city to assume the responsibilities that would otherwise fall under LAHSA.”
Several council members, including de León and Price, criticized LAHSA’s 2022 homeless count released last week during Friday’s council meeting. The count a showed a 4.1% increase in the number of unhoused people in Los Angeles since 2020. Price said his office, along with a few other council members’ offices, had trouble accessing data breaking down the sheltered versus unsheltered populations in his South Los Angeles district.
“If the city is going to be tasked with solving these problems without serious investment from our neighbors, our neighboring jurisdictions and the county, then I think we need to start having more control over placements (of unhoused people),” Price said. “I think we have to have that control.”
“And we need an agency that can provide us with the basic data, so that we can make those decisions.”
De León claimed that the 20% increase in homelessness in his district was partially due to unhoused people moving around the city due to programs like Project Roomkey, a pandemic-era state housing program that is in the process of being wound down.
“It wasn’t just the numbers that have been skewed, but also, too, now the burden and the responsibility,” de León said, noting that his office will be responsible for finding shelter for Project Roomkey participants when the program ends.
Price added that he was “tired of the run-around. I’m tired of asking for equity when it comes to funding. I’m tired of building beds and then no tangible results on the streets.” He called for all departments, including LAHSA, to do better.
“We need to demand more from our partners and from our own city departments,” Price said. “Because we all have a role to play in this if we’re serious about bringing about change and really solving this crisis. There has to be more accountability, more visibility (and) greater commitment.”