LA mayoral candidate Jessica Lall issues homelessness plan

Candidate for mayor Jessica Lall says that when she looks at the system that distributes help and care to the homeless in Los Angeles, she sees an “insane chorus of ‘it’s not my responsibility’.”

To improve the situation, Lall said on Wednesday that if elected, she would set up a homelessness ward to coordinate the response to the crisis.

She said a department that is uniquely focused on homelessness – one where officials from other agencies can meet to address bureaucratic challenges – would help improve the provision of services to people living on the streets.

“Departments like sanitation unfairly [have] become the de facto leading agency dealing with street camps, ”said Lall. “The department set up to deal with waste and waste is being asked to be the front face of our city to our uninhabited population. It is both dysfunctional and unacceptable and needs to be changed.”

The proposal was part of a broader one homelessness plan released by Lall, who serves as president and CEO of the downtown corporate group Central City Assn, and is working on a long-running bid for the city’s top job that lacks the name recognition and stature of many of the other candidates holding others elected. office.

Unlike other candidates, Lall was reluctant to specify how many people she would have liked to have housed early in her term. Last week, the rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) that 15,000 people should be housed in her first year – although she did not specify how many would move into permanent housing, as opposed to temporary housing such as. , small houses or rented hotel rooms.

Last year, Councilman Joe Buscaino said he would like to see 7,000 new temporary housing units in his first 18 months. Lall said her rivals’ homelessness plans “have these lofty goals, but as we know, goals are not a plan.”

“We do not want to throw numbers at a dartboard,” Lall said. “Part of the biggest problem is that we do not have the necessary data to know where we are at all, much less where we are going.”

If elected, Lall said she would appoint herself to the commission overseeing the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, and eventually appoint other elected officials to join her to increase accountability. Currently, the Commission includes former elected officials, people from philanthropy and business leaders. The addition of elected officials is inspired by how the region’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is organized.

If, after sitting on the board, she felt the organization was inefficient, Lall said she would consider pulling the city out.

Lall also said she would immediately try to check how money set aside for homelessness has been spent and begin monthly updates with the public about the crisis. Her hope was that her initial budget would reflect a better understanding of how money is already being spent and would allow her to set realistic goals for communicating to the public.

Mike Arnold, who previously ran LAHSA and now runs the Midnight Mission on skid row, said Lall’s suggestions were encouraging, though many of her ideas are not new. He pointed to her desire to be on the LAHSA board as an example of how she wants to dive into the structural challenges currently associated with helping the homeless.

“She clearly understands how to structurally break down bureaucracy to create meaningful results,” Arnold said.

She said the city needs to spend more on mental health care for the homeless – usually belonging to the county – meaning she did not explain how it would be paid for. She has previously proposed setting up a municipal health department.

She was reluctant to give her support to a recently announced referendum initiative that would increase taxes on real estate in the city to fund permanent housing for the homeless and those at risk of ending up on the streets. She said new taxes right now were not acceptable.

She said one key measure to judge success would be the reduction of street camps – a view shared by all candidates. The Central City Assn. has been criticized of skid row activists who say they have advocated for policies that would harm the people living on the streets of the city center.

Lall said the part of a law passed last summer that allows council members to seek to ban camping in certain locations is one of “the best examples of the dysfunction that is currently taking place.”

“I support cleaning camps and relocating people to housing and services,” Lall said. “I do not support doing this council district by council district, where one has to get a group of people in a community to go to a council member to make a proposal.”

Laws about where people can and cannot camp should be enforced consistently and throughout the city, she said.

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