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.
Protecting Tenants and Preventing Homelessness
Housing affordability and the prevention of homelessness continue to be among the Board’s highest priorities. The financial hardships created by the COVID-19 crisis have made that mission more urgent than ever. At this week’s meeting, we passed three motions to help keep LA County residents in their homes, and LAHSA presented a comprehensive COVID-19 Recovery Plan related to homelessness and housing.
LAHSA has helped to shelter over 6,000 people since the start of the pandemic, including 4,000 through Project Roomkey. This is a considerable achievement but a temporary solution. LAHSA is setting the ambitious goal of rehousing 15,000 people experiencing homelessness, focusing on individuals over 65 or those who have existing health conditions. Once housed through the lease-up effort, participants will be assessed and supported in exiting to permanent housing. Higher acuity individuals will be placed in supportive housing that will meet their needs, and lower acuity individuals and families will follow a pathway to housing supported by subsidies to help them establish themselves in a new home. Read more about LAHSA’s plan here!
The Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas that expands the County’s Rent Relief Program, prioritizing households most at risk of homelessness in high-need areas.
There is a growing fear that LA County, and indeed, all areas across the country, will start to see a slew of evictions and foreclosures as eviction moratoria are lifted. Recognizing that we need to be proactive, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Mark Ridley- Thomas that asks the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, CEO, and County Counsel to collaborate on a preventative plan to address the expected increase in evictions, once the emergency declarations are lifted.
Finally, I submitted a motion that was approved by the Board to extend the eviction moratorium across the entire county for another month. The COVID-19 crisis is ongoing, and the process of reopening has only just begun. We need to provide individuals and families a little more time to get back on their feet and protect tenants from eviction as they work to rebuild their financial security.
Countywide Cultural Policy
Like so many sectors, the Creative Economy has suffered tremendous financial and opportunity losses throughout the pandemic. In addition to these quantifiable losses, residents of LA County have lost access to places and programs where they learn something new, express their culture, explore ideas, gain new skills, find solace, and experience joy. Arts and culture bring value and vibrancy to our communities and improve quality of life, and LA County is going to do our part to ensure that this sector continues to thrive.
On Tuesday, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis calling for the adoption of a Countywide Cultural Policy. The Cultural Policy provides a roadmap with concrete elements focused on equity, diversity, inclusion, and access. It outlines how all LA County Departments can contribute to cultural life and ensure that LA County residents have access to arts and culture. The policy not only nurtures a culture within LA County that values arts and creativity, but weaves that appreciation into the services and programs we provide, the parks and venues we oversee, and all aspects of civic life.
Restoring Visitation for those In Custody
Since March, men and women and young people in County jails, camps, and halls have been precluded from having in-person visitors, including from family support systems and community-based service providers. Research has demonstrated that in-person contact with loved ones supports the well-being of those in custody and reduces the risk of recidivism.
Given that the number of COVID-19 cases in youth and adult facilities has significantly decreased, and stringent health risk mitigation measures are in place, it is time to consider relaxing restrictions on in-person visits in our custody facilities. On Tuesday, the Board passed my motion calling for a two-week report back from both the Sheriff and the Probation Department on how we can reinstate visitation, allowing those in custody to participate in programs provided by community nonprofits as well as to safely connect to members of their family.
As we continue on the road to recovery, I am grateful that the Board is moving forward to restore this valuable and integral component of rehabilitation.
Creating a Sustainable and Just Food System
The COVID-19 crisis and subsequent economic fallout have led to skyrocketing rates of food insecurity. Our governmental safety net programs like CalFresh and WIC have experienced real challenges in their ability to enroll participants fast enough to meet the overwhelming demand. This week, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Janice Hahn aimed at closing these gaps and building on the County’s progress in addressing this need.
This motion calls upon the Chief Sustainability Officer (acting as director of the Food Security Branch), related county departments, and other food system stakeholders to develop a plan outlining policies and strategies to effectively address the issue of food security.
There is a high degree of interdependence across the different sectors of LA County’s food system, meaning that any efforts or actions aimed at eradicating food insecurity require extensive collaboration and coordination. Regular coordination among County departments, local nonprofits, food providers and philanthropic institutions will help us better prepare for future disasters or economic shocks and ensure that anyone who needs food in the months to come will be able to access it.
Helping LA County #MaskUp
Last week, both the Governor and LA County mandated the wearing of face coverings in public. It is safe to say that for the next few months, as we try to balance reopening with responsible infection control precautions, masks will be an integral part of our everyday lives.
To eliminate any financial barriers people may face that would prevent them from wearing a face mask, the Board approved a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis to develop a plan for purchasing and distributing three million cloth face masks, prioritizing County residents most in need, or who live or work in communities most impacted by COVID-19.