Barger: Homelessness a critical issue in 2018

Supervisor Kathryn Barger

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s office said the supervisor will remain focused on homelessness heading into 2018.

Barger’s spokesman Tony Bell said this week that the county has had trouble working with the standard of care in connection with the state’s Lanterman Act and the homeless.

“We’re looking at the definition of the gravely disabled,” he said. “A good percentage of the county’s homeless population are dealing with serious mental health problems. Allowing them to languish on the streets is inhumane.”

Bell said the further implementation of funds for Measure H, the 10-year, quarter-cent sales tax passed by voters in March, will be a key area to watch in the new year. In June, the supervisors unanimously voted to approve a $1 billion, three-year spending package to pump Measure H funds into local communities.

Bell said the supervisor wants to also focus on transportation, foster care programs, and county parks. In November, Barger led officials on a three-hour horseback trail ride at Castaic Lake.

Bell said the first-term supervisor, who was the chief of staff of former county supervisor Michael Antonovich before he stepped down due to term limits, helped launch a blue ribbon panel on public safety in August.

The commission says its goals are to analyze “strategies, challenges and opportunities presented by recent criminal justice reforms,” according to the commission’s website. The commission is also tasked with making sure county facilities can provide “meaningful rehabilitative services.”

Bell said Barger has primarily focused on public safety, mental health and the county’s homeless, fiscal restraint and responsive municipal government.

“I think we’ve been successful,”  he said, “in all four areas.”

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