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.
The Board approved a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis to extend the County’s residential and commercial eviction protections by three months as we ramp up our COVID rental assistance. In addition to extending existing protections through September, the motion also allows limited owner move-ins, with restrictions, as part of the initial stages of a phase-out of the moratorium. You can learn more here!
A thoughtful phase-out is necessary as housing and homelessness experts predict a sharp rise in evictions in the next six months, which could severely exacerbate an already tenuous housing crisis. LA County is working to reinforce our safety nets and explore funding solutions so we can keep as many people in their homes and off the streets as possible. If you are a landlord or tenant interested in the rental assistance available to you, please visit HousingIsKey.com!
We also passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Kathryn Barger asking our LA County Legislative Affairs staff to analyze SB 679, a bill to establish a separate housing authority in the County. The motion also requested a report back on the County’s ability to implement a similar financing mechanism on its own. The County is constantly exploring more funding for affordable housing development and tenant protections, and this motion is a good way to make sure we’ve explored all our options.
Tailoring Services and Programs for LGBTQ+ Foster Youth
As Pride Month comes to a close, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis asking for regular status updates from the Department of Children and Family Services on increasing their efforts to support LGBTQ+ foster youth and their families.
Nearly 20% of foster youth in our LA County system identify as LGBTQ+, making them significantly overrepresented in this system, owing in large part to rejection and mistreatment by their families. LA County needs to make sure we offer specialized services and programs that address the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth, including an increased risk of mental health problems and a narrower selection of placements due to discrimination. This motion will enable the Board to monitor and assess progress made in the development of these services.
Care First, Jails Last
We’ve said as much before, and we’ll say it again, Men’s Central Jail is a crumbling and inhumane monument to the failed system of mass incarceration. It should be relegated to the ash heap of history, allowing a new chapter of a “Care First, Jails Last” criminal justice system to take its place.
I’m pleased that the Board passed the motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis to create the Jail Closure Implementation Team (JCIT), which will be tasked with organizing the data, funding and actions necessary to close MCJ. The JCIT will report to the Board with an action plan, community engagement framework, and status updates every 90 days.
Out with the old and in with the new, we also passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Holly Mitchell to explore funding streams that the County can potentially use to sustain the Office of Diversion and Reentry’s jail-based diversion work. By investing in diversion, housing, and services instead of cells to fill, we are fulfilling our commitment to reimagine criminal justice in a way that uplifts our communities rather than tearing them apart.
Waiver of Citizenship Requirements for LA County Employment
About 35% of LA County residents are immigrants, and a considerable portion of that population cannot be considered for County jobs due to citizenship requirements. The Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis that could help us employ this untapped pool of talent by waiving the citizenship requirement for certain County positions.
For now, the motion seeks an analysis from County Counsel on waiving the requirement and asks our legislative advocates to push for an amendment to the Government Code that would eliminate the citizenship requirement for Disaster Services Workers. If we can eventually waive the requirement, we could make county employment available to a larger group of talented LA County residents and create a workforce that is even more diverse and experienced.
Care with Pride: Ensuring Appropriate LGBTQ+ and Gender Affirming Care in LA County
Medical experts and advocates alike agree that gender-affirming care is not only needed, but can be life-saving for trans youth. While other states attempt to make access more difficult, LA County is committed to providing responsive and appropriate care for the LGBTQ+. We passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis that seeks to do just that.
The motion initiates an assessment of our current protocols concerning gender-affirming care at County-run health clinics and the development of a standardized referral process to link LGBTQ+ individuals to the culturally competent care they need. Departments will also collaborate with service providers and subject matter experts to establish a toolkit and informational materials for foster youth who identify as LGBTQ+, focusing on transgender and gender non-conforming youth, so that they have the information they need to get appropriate attention to their specific health care needs.