The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 Tuesday in favor of establishing a Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness. The recommendation for a commission came from Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who warned that unless cities have more input into how Measure H dollars are spent, the county won’t have the support it needs to ensure future funding.
“Homelessness is a major crisis affecting our communities at every level, and it’s time for sweeping changes to the system,” Barger said. “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.”
Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Holly Mitchell cast the dissenting votes. Kuehl said she agreed with Barger that homelessness is an urgent issue requiring all hands on deck, but couldn’t see what the commission might accomplish.
“There is no silver bullet about homelessness. There is no sudden, new something we haven’t even thought of that is going to come out of this,” Kuehl said. “This, I think, will actually simply take up a lot of time, come up with many of the same recommendations that we’ve heard from the four reports that we’ve done in the last 12 months about LAHSA and homelessness, and then we will be facing the same question about action or lack of action.”
Two weeks ago, Mitchell proposed a new city-county commission to rethink the structure of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority that was shot down by everyone other than Kuehl. Supervisor Janice Hahn said at the time that she didn’t understand how more elected officials “thrown into the mix” was going to solve the problem.
“I’m not convinced that creating another inter-governmental body, made of up elected officials from the city and the county, does anything to move this forward,” Hahn said July 13. “We are already accountable.”
Tuesday, Hahn cast her lot with Barger, saying she was “frustrated enough to try one more thing.”
The commission is designed to end after six months, a point both Barger and Hahn stressed in pressing for it over objections that it would derail momentum in the battle against homelessness.
Previous related story: Supervisor Barger proposes Blue-Ribbon Commission on homelessness