Supes OK $20M for homeless veterans, hold discussion on body cams

Supervisor Kathryn Barger participates in a Santa Clarita Valley Transportation Summit at City Hall on Wednesday, April 4, 2018. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion to allocate $20 million to help mentally ill veterans experiencing homelessness on Tuesday.

The motion, authored by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Kathryn Barger, incorporates money into the next fiscal year budget to establish a “veteran peer access network” to help veterans with mental illness. The vote will be on authorizing the county’s Community Development Commission to accept the allocated funds to help the network.

The network would enable veterans to help fellow veterans access multiple services related to  substance abuse treatment, education, benefits and housing services.

The motion was first proposed at the Feb. 6 meeting, said Erick Matos, Barger’s health deputy. Thereafter, the county CEO and various health agencies worked with veterans groups and the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs to begin tackling the issue.

The supervisors tasked the Department of Mental Health to identify potential funding sources that would allocate $20 million towards housing resources.

Of that $20 million, $15 million was to create new affordable and permanent supportive housing units for veterans experiencing homelessness and mental health issues, and $5 million for housing resources to access existing housing through the veteran peer network, according to county documents.

“When we’ve been dealing with the homeless population specifically, there’s a lot of interactions that would benefit from having a peer to peer interaction,” Matos said. “Specifically with veteran groups, it’s been extraordinarily successful in relation to the veterans and the things they go through. When we’re looking at that, that’s the motivator to capitalize on the peer to peer interaction that ultimately results in better outcomes for these folks experiencing homelessness.”

The board held discussion for a $84 million plan in support of body-worn cameras for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for a future meeting.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas authored the motion in 2016 to bring in a consultant to the meeting to discuss reports and analyses on the cameras, and decide on recommendations for proposed policies with inputs from stakeholders.

In October 2017, Hamai determined that body-worn cameras would cost $84 million over four years and require 302 additional staff. Of that amount, $76 million and 239 additional staff would be for the department to manage, review and edit the hours of video that would be captured. This amount would cover the deployment of 5,895 cameras, according to the report.

However, the report recommends that more direction is needed before deciding whether and how to implement body-worn cameras.

It is unclear when, if the plan were to pass, the individual stations throughout L.A. County would see body cameras in those four years.

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS