News flash! Every week, following the Board meeting, Supervisor Kuehl picks five items you might find interesting, important, and/or fun. It’s your way to get a quick rundown of several highlights of the meeting in no more than 5 minutes! Looking for more? Click here to get the entire agenda.

Spiller Out!

I was honored to begin Tuesday’s meeting by presenting a scroll to Sheryl Spiller, in recognition of her retirement as Director of the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS).

In 2012, Sheryl became the first African American to lead DPSS in its 100-year history. This was crown of her 50 years of service to the County, beginning as a clerk-typist. Through her leadership years, she helped guide important policy decisions and public outreach efforts.

Thank you, Sheryl, for your dedication and leadership. We’ll miss you!

Affordable Housing

We’re facing a historic shortage of affordable housing here in the County, and it’s time that we get serious about a solution. This Board and you, our residents, have voted to invest critical resources in addressing homelessness head-on. But our housing needs are so high that it’s going to take a continued collective effort to fix this crisis.

On Tuesday, we approved a motion co-authored by myself and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, that directs the Department of Regional Planning to draft four ordinances that will increase the number of local affordable housing units. These ordinances represent a significant push by the County to meet affordable housing needs and support some of our most vulnerable residents.

Read more: County launches major effort to expand affordable housing

More Affordable Housing

Continuing our efforts to address the critical housing shortage, we presented a letter to the Community Development Commission that commits $43 million for nine new affordable housing developments all over the County.

The new developments will provide housing for individuals experiencing homelessness, including homeless veterans, and low-income families. The apartment units will be located in the cities of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Lancaster and South Gate, as well as in unincorporated communities in the County.

We need to continue to do all we can to increase our overall supply of housing, preserve our current affordable housing, and protect tenants to keep people in their homes and off the streets.

Opportunity Zones in Unincorporated Areas of LA County

We also passed a motion by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas that directs the Community Development Commission to work with the Governor’s office to identify communities in unincorporated areas of the County that can be designated as Opportunity Zones.

The Opportunity Zones Program, established by this US Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, is a unique opportunity to drive economic growth and create jobs in some of our most needy communities. The program offers competitive tax cuts to investors who drive financial capital to areas that have been federally-approved as Opportunity Zones.

This could be one way to provide support to communities that will otherwise disproportionately suffer as a result of a bad tax plan that almost exclusively benefits the wealthiest individuals and corporations.

Virtual Mental Health Tools

The stigma and confusion surrounding mental illness and available mental health resources can make it challenging for some to access the support and care they need. In our increasingly technology-focused world, it’s essential that we consider innovative solutions to help people receive the help they need.

At Tuesday’s meeting, we approved a recommendation that will allow the Department of Mental Health to work with the California Mental Health Services Authority to provide tech-based solutions to address mental health needs. This opt-in program will connect individuals to interactive tools to provide resources and care – from anywhere they may be.

The tools are intended to remove barriers of access to care and will include a peer chat component to educate users about mental health conditions, information about available public resources, and even feature an AVATAR that can interact with a user. This system has shown promise in helping veterans open up about post-war stress and trauma, by providing a safe, unbiased space to talk.

Read more about how virtual AVATARS have helped support vets here.