Mirroring a step taken by Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass on her first day in office last month, the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a motion proclaiming a local emergency on homelessness.
“Today’s unanimous action by the board honors the November mandate from L.A. County voters: lead with urgency and transparency to address the homelessness crisis in every neighborhood,” Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath said in a statement following the vote on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
The board last month approved a motion calling on its staff to work arm-in-arm with Los Angeles city officials to address homelessness and assist in any way possible to implement Bass’ emergency declaration. But the board on Tuesday approved a declaration of its own.
The motion by Supervisors Horvath and Kathryn Barger noted, “Proclaiming a local emergency to address this critical crisis will provide the county with additional tools to accelerate and expand its response through the Homeless Initiative and in collaboration with our city partners. These additional tools include accelerated hiring of additional employees to address homelessness and mental health, the more effective and efficient use of funds, an expedited procurement of critical items, a faster and more streamlined creation of housing, expanded services, and the ability to request additional resources from the State and Federal governments.”
In addition to proclaiming the emergency, the motion also directs county staff to expedite procurement and contracting processes for materials and services needed to address the homelessness crisis, expedite the hiring of staff to address the crisis and direct the homeless to relevant services and housing, accelerate efforts to create more licensed shelter beds and interim and permanent housing, and to identify funding that can be directed to housing and services.
The motion calls for a report back in six months on the effectiveness of the effort, and a decision in a year on whether to extend the emergency declaration. Bass issued a statement praising the county’s action.
“The people of Los Angeles deserve that we urgently and immediately take every possible action to bring unhoused Angelenos indoors, and this declaration will enable us to move faster and unlock every tool possible,” Bass said. “I look forward to a continued and close working relationship with the board and the county as we confront this crisis together, head on.”
During the county board meeting, Supervisor Janice Hahn compared the county’s quick response to recent storms and fires to how the county should be marshalling resources to house people sleeping on the streets.
“We should feel like every one of those nearly 70,000 people that are sleeping on our streets tonight, we should have that same sense of urgency,” Hahn said. “That same sense of we need to bring them inside. We need to put a roof over their head, temporarily to start with and then work towards permanent housing.”
The most recent point-in-time homeless count last year found more than 69,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County.
“Okay, let’s go to work,” Hahn said following the board’s vote.