LAHSA addresses internal challenges

Seal of Los Angeles County.

To increase the use of services they offer, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority officials are revamping the Homeless Central Command initiative, which was discussed at Tuesday’s Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting. 

The HCC is an initiative attempting to decrease the amount of time it takes to move people into housing with help from LAHSA, said Heidi Marston, interim executive director of LAHSA, at Tuesday’s meeting. 

“(L.A. County), as an entity, provides a significant amount of LAHSA’s overall budget, approximately $244 million of Measure H funding,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the county’s 5th District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley. “It is our responsibility to seriously examine how effectively these funds are moving through LAHSA, and into the community.” 

At a previous supervisors’ meeting Feb. 11, Barger said cities in her district, which include Santa Clarita, don’t believe they’re being represented by the current LAHSA structure. 

“We rely on the county and LAHSA for data and additional resources, but most importantly the access to Measure H funding,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth. “Supervisor Barger has been a great partner and a champion to ensure that Santa Clarita is getting its fair share of (Measure H) dollars.”

The board then moved to have LAHSA leadership report back with necessary corrective actions addressing hurdles, specifically their inability to swiftly fill available permanent supportive housing units.  PSH is a combination of housing assistance and support services, according to Marston. 

Prior to this initiative, LAHSA reported that L.A. County’s decentralized government was a hurdle to filling the housing units. 

With the initiative, the city, county and federal agencies would work together to increase the speed and effectiveness with which the system helps people experiencing homelessness move into housing, Marston reported at Tuesday’s meeting. 

“HCC is based on a crisis response model developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to rehouse people after natural disasters,” a LAHSA news release said. 

Understanding a holistic approach to looking at how resources interact with one another is another goal of the Housing Central Command, according to Marston. 

“In partnership with these efforts, it is necessary that the county also undertake an analysis of current governance challenges at LAHSA and explore possible enhancements to ensure that our collective efforts are effective as possible in urgently meeting the needs of those experiencing homelessness,” the report added. 

In less than 60 days, the county chief executive officer is expected to report back to the board with recommendations or modifications that should be made to LAHSA governance, performance, accountability and transparency.

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