Barger proposes commission to assess county’s approach to homelessness

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, representing the 5th district visits The Signal to discuss ideas and goals she plans to accomplish during her time as chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Gilbert Bernal/The Signal

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider Tuesday creating a Blue-Ribbon Commission on Homelessness to identify reforms to the county’s approach to addressing the county’s homelessness crisis.  

Supervisor Kathryn Barger introduced the motion proposing establishing the commission. The commission is critical to addressing the county’s homelessness crisis, she said in a prepared statement. 

“I have said many times that the status quo is no longer working and it’s time that we engage and collaborate with service providers, government agencies and city representatives throughout the county to come up with new strategies and solutions to bring individuals off the street and provide them with the care and services they deserve,” she said. “We cannot wait another day before upending our existing systems and approaches while vulnerable residents are dying and left to languish on our streets.” 

The commission will seek to incorporate perspectives from outside of the county organization by establishing a nine-member commission that features two members from the Contract Cities Association and Councils of Government, which represent the county’s 88 cities, in addition to appointees by county supervisors, the mayor of Los Angeles, and the president of the Los Angeles City Council. 

If approved, the motion asks the BRCH to write a report that recommends a “transparent, inclusive, and accountable governance system that has measurable outcomes and can execute its functions and duties effectively.” 

“While the county has tried valiantly through the years to develop programs to serve people experiencing homelessness, we need to hear from our partners at the local level – those representatives from the 88 cities throughout the county, along with our Councils of Governments and our contract cities partners – to vastly improve our work on homelessness,” Barger said in a prepared statement. 

The BCRH would be required to present a final report and recommendations within six months of its first meeting. The commission’s analysis, the motion stated, is to “explore the process of renegotiating and/or the implications of withdrawal from the LAHSA Joint Powers Agreement.” 

The motion cited a June proposal from the city of Los Angeles that would create a group of city and county officials to review the governance structure of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority as an indication of the need to assess the county’s approach to addressing homelessness. 

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