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.

Photo/Image: This week, all Supervisors adjourned in memory of Ruth Schwartz, a storied and tireless advocate for people experiencing homelessness. She was the definition of singleminded, fully dedicated to people suffering on the streets. She founded Shelter Partnership in 1985 to develop housing and resources for people experiencing homelessness. Over three decades, her Shelter Resource Bank secured a quarter of a billion dollars worth of donated clothes, shoes and socks, and hygiene products. Throughout her incredible life of service, she served on many boards and advisory committees, including the Senate Bipartisan Task Force on the Homeless, the California Housing Loan and Grant Advisory Committee, LAHSA, the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing Developers (SCANPH); and was honored by the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

LA County Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders

Over the last year in particular—owing in no small part to the former President’s repeated racist language and messaging—toxic rhetoric about the AAPI and NHPI communities has contributed to an alarming increase in the violent targeting of these groups. I’m grateful to Supervisors Hahn and Mitchell for authoring a motion that lays out tangible actions we can take to put the County’s resources behind the fight against this hatred and bigotry.

The motion creates a workgroup within the ARDI (Anti-Racism, Diversity and Inclusion) Initiative that will report back to the Board on how we can integrate and elevate these communities, addressing economic mobility and development, education, public health, housing, and well-being. The motion also suggests putting significant funding behind these efforts and partnering with philanthropic and academic institutions to broaden our impact.

This motion is a step towards meaningfully supporting and being in solidarity with communities of color—by cultivating resources and partnerships that can lead us to a more equitable future.

Improvements to the LA County Surplus Property Program

This week, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Barger to streamline the Surplus Property Program by moving the application online and transferring it to a web-based distribution and tracking system.

The Surplus Property program allows property that is no longer needed by the County, such as office furniture, office equipment, clothing, household goods, tools, and other property, to be donated to pre-approved non-profit organizations. In addition to digitizing the application, the County will be leveraging the Surplus Sales System (the same system we use for County Auctions) to redistribute the property. This will ensure that pre-approved non-profits have equal access to the donations, make it easier to apply and renew annual applications, and allow the County to better track the use of the equipment.

These changes will modernize this valuable upcycling program and help us better support the organizations that lift up our communities.

Fighting Food Insecurity in LA County

LA County is fighting for an equitable food system, one where no resident needs to worry about going hungry. To further those efforts, we passed a pair of motions, one supporting expanded access to nutrition assistance and another to continue funding one of LA County’s ongoing programs.

The first motion, which I co-authored with Supervisor Solis, puts LA County on record supporting SB 464 and AB 221. These bills would expand food assistance benefits to low-income undocumented immigrants and provide emergency food assistance to millions of low-income Californians during COVID-19, respectively.

The second motion, authored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, provides the upfront funding (FEMA will reimburse) to sustain the Great Plates Delivered program, which has delivered meals to eligible seniors to avoid unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 and stay healthy and fed.

Affordable Housing Preservation Ordinance

I’m really excited that the Board put the final stamp of approval on the Affordable Housing Preservation Ordinance, which will help prevent the loss of affordable units to new construction, land division, and more. Since the number of LA County residents eligible for affordable housing far outweighs the number of available units, it is important to keep what housing we have while we are working to build more.

The ordinance requires the replacement of affordable rental housing that is demolished, vacated, or converted to condos. The replacement units must be “like-for-like” in at least the same number and for the same or lower household income levels in terms of affordability.

Passing the ordinance is just one of the necessary and critical steps to modernize housing guidelines in unincorporated LA County and bring all tools to bear on the housing and homelessness crises.

Support for the State “Momnibus” Bill

The United States, compared to other developed nations, has a high rate of maternal and infant mortality. Further, an abundance of data indicates that African American women and infants, in particular, suffer from huge disparities in mortality rates in LA County and across the country. Between 2013 and 2017, the county’s four-year average maternal mortality rate was almost six times higher for black women than for white women. These results are fairly consistent even when taking into account income and education level. We have to do better for mothers and babies.

This week the Board passed a motion authored by Supervisor Holly Mitchell formalizing LA County’s support for SB 65 California’s Momnibus Bill (Skinner). If passed, the bill will take several actions to increase access and improve the quality of pre and postnatal care for women, especially in low-income communities of color. You can read more on SB 65 here!