Supervisor Barger Proposes Blue-Ribbon Commission on Homelessness

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced today that she has authored a motion to create a Blue-Ribbon Commission on Homelessness to give recommendations to the board on ways to solve the homelessness crisis.

“The creation of a Blue-Ribbon Commission is critical to finally address that homelessness is a serious crisis,'' Barger said. A blue-ribbon commission is typically made up of experts in a field and functions to give recommendations, but doed not hold any power itself.

“I have said many times that the status quo is no longer working and it's time that we engage and collaborate with service providers, government agencies and city representatives throughout the county to come up with new strategies and solutions to bring individuals off the street and provide them with the care and services they deserve. We cannot wait another day before upending our existing systems and approaches while vulnerable residents are dying and left to languish on our streets.''

Barger proposes that the commission be composed of nine members -- five appointed by each county supervisor and the other four each nominated by the Los Angeles mayor, City Council president, the Contract Cities Association and Councils of Government. The group would research homelessness governance reports and best practices from cities across the U.S., as well as take into account how mental health care and substance abuse services are currently offered to people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles and how it can be improved. They would also review the Joint Powers Authority that governs the county's participation in the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. That review would include an assessment of the powers and limitations of the organization and fiscal and operational consequences if the county decides to withdraw from it.

The Los Angeles City Council is also exploring an exit from LAHSA and two council members -- Paul Koretz and Joe Buscaino -- introduced a motion to prepare the city for a potential withdrawal.

“While the county has tried valiantly through the years to develop programs to serve people experiencing homelessness, we need to hear from our partners at the local level -- those representatives from the 88 cities throughout the county, along with our Councils of Governments and our contract cities partners -- to vastly improve our work on homelessness,'' Barger said. “It is my ardent hope that this all-hands-on-deck approach will provide the depth of thought and critical feedback necessary to find solutions. In addition, this effort is intended to improve accountability, transparency and inclusivity for all involved.''

Barger's motion proposes that the commission hold regularly scheduled meetings with county departments, agencies, stakeholders, service providers and local leaders. If the motion is approved, the commission would present its report with recommendations and assessments to the board within six months.

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