Supervisors approve plan to link homeless people to jobs

A homeless encampment that was erected inside private property in the hills behind the 23600 block of Diamond Place. Cory Rubin/The Signal

County supervisors have approved a plan to put more jobs and money within reach of the homeless.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this week in favor of a motion put forward by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Sheila Kuehl directing the county’s chief executive office to work with the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, which would administer a special fund earmarked for the project called the Homeless Employment Innovation Fund.

“The county has been successful in our efforts to connect highly acute individuals to benefits through Measure H-funded strategies, but there are portions of the homeless population who simply need a hand-up to reconnect to jobs and housing,” Barger said Tuesday.

The money would go to providers and job centers that have a proven track record of successfully connecting individuals to employment opportunities.

Via funds made available through Measure H, stipends would be given to homeless people who participate in “high-performing intensive vocational training programs.”

The plan calls on research to be done identifying county programs proven to be successful.

The motion states: “Resources distributed through this Employment Innovative Fund will be awarded based on existing performance data.”

“This effort will provide employment opportunities to help curb the inflow into homelessness and help other individuals exit cycles of homelessness for good,” Barger said Tuesday.

Nearly half (46 percent) of the 9,205 people experiencing homelessness for the first time said it was due to a loss of employment or other financial reason, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s 2018 Homeless Count data.

In addition to establishing the Employment Innovation Fund, the county is expected to work with local experts and research collectives, such as the Homelessness Policy Research Institute, to design, implement and measure pilot programs based on localized solutions to employing homeless individuals and families in their area.

In documents prepared by Barger and Kuehl explaining the employment initiative to their fellow supervisors, they said “many currently homeless families and individuals, if provided support, have the ability to increase their income to the point where they will be able to retain their housing independently in the future.

“Empowering a high percentage of homeless adults to ultimately reach income levels that will support independent housing retention is essential to ending the crisis of homelessness in L.A. County,” they wrote.

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