City Council Committee Urges Officials to Produce New Homeless Reports

Close-up of dirty beggar's hands

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - City Councilman Mike Bonin voiced his frustration today over what he said has been a slow-moving effort to track the number of homeless people living at safe parking lots and how many of them are being processed for housing services.

``I've gone, over the past year, from impatience to frustration to really being pissed off with the implementation of this program, to be honest,'' Bonin said during the City Council's Homeless and Poverty Committee meeting. ``The reason being is I spoke with a woman who has been in one of those lots for at least six months, and she has not been entered into the Coordinated Entry System.''

The entry system tracks and monitors cases of people who are homeless and coordinates them with possible supportive housing opportunities.

Bonin said he has supported safe parking measures for the last decade, but his motion filed in January to receive monthly reports from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has not yet provided such information. The councilman said the main thing he wants reported are the number of people who are being entered into the CES and how many are still living in the parking lots.

City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who chairs the committee, said he would like a monthly report for the next several months and that he plans to meet with LAHSA officials in the near future to assist the program.

``Our CARE team program begins next month. If we're not working in concert with LAHSA ... then we're not helping to solve the problem at all,'' O'Farrell said. ``I'm happy to host a meeting with Los Angeles Sanitation and LAHSA so there's no gap or lost opportunities.''

CARE teams have been authorized to start homeless outreach and cleanup of encampments in some of the city's most dense homeless populations, with particular attention to Skid Row in downtown. The city earmarked tens of millions of dollars for the CARE programs earlier this year following the release of the Point-in-Time Count numbers that revealed the city's homeless population spiked 16 percent, to 36,000 people over last year.

O'Farrell reiterated that he is in the process of trying to secure $1.2 billion in state funding to match the city's voter-approved amount to provide permanent supportive housing; however, he cautioned, Los Angeles could be criticized if it doesn't have its programs sufficiently coordinated, making it difficult to secure that money.

During the meeting, O'Farrell also directed the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department to work with LAHSA to create a report on the number of unaccompanied homeless immigrant minors and to provide recommendations to address the matter.

The chairman said the one avenue the city could take to help homeless immigrant children is through Casa Libre, a licensed emergency and long-term shelter for people 18 or younger. O'Farrell said he would coordinate with County Supervisor Hilda Solis on that report.

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