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.

Homeless Count

This week, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) presented the Board with the results of the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. Given the 12% increase in homelessness in LA County, many were disappointed that we have not made more headway.

But that would be faulting the net for those being pushed off the roof. We made great headway in housing or sheltering almost as many people as were in the total count last year. We just couldn’t keep up with the rising tide of newly homeless, mostly for economic reasons—staggering rising rents and shortages in affordable housing—no matter how many tens of thousands we have housed.

I am hopeful that more of our cities will pass rent stabilization laws to protect families struggling to make their monthly rent, invest in more affordable housing, and develop ordinances that make it easier to build. We also need more state leaders in Sacramento to join their courageous colleagues leading the way in removing barriers cemented into state law that make our frontline efforts to end homelessness more difficult. The greatest loss is at the national level. Since Ronald Reagan cut almost 80% of affordable housing funds, it has only gotten worse.

The latest count tells us that we must continue working at every level on every front.

Housing and Mixed-Status Families

As the Ben Carson-directed U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) prepares to prevent mixed-immigration status families from receiving any federal housing assistance, LA County is stepping up to help mitigate the consequences of this attempt to undermine immigrant families.

Presently, eligible family members can receive assistance even if they reside with ineligible family members. The rule change at HUD would mean entire families could be kicked out of their homes simply because they live in mixed-immigration status households.
In light of these unfortunate developments, the Board voted on a motion by Supervisors Solis and Ridley-Thomas to direct the County to develop a plan with recommendations to prevent the displacement or eviction of families that would be impacted by this draconian rule change which the County already voted to strongly oppose.

All-Gender Bathrooms

The Board approved a motion I brought, co-authored by Supervisor Solis, to improve standards for all-gender restrooms in all newly constructed County buildings and major remodels.

These standards include easily-accessible all-gender restrooms with appropriate signage, particularly in County buildings that offer direct services.

When 70% of transgender and gender non-conforming people report being verbally harassed, denied access, or physically assaulted in public restrooms, it is important for the County to create safer spaces for everyone. Additionally, all-gender restrooms benefit individuals with disabilities who need assistance, as well as parents with children of a different gender. This move improves safety and promotes equity by creating more accessible spaces for County residents regardless of who they are.

Recruiting Women Firefighters

In LA County, women make up only 1.7% of firefighters, compared to 4.1% nationwide. It is important to support them and help create an equitable workplace that is welcoming to women.

Through a motion by Supervisors Hahn and Ridley-Thomas, the Board voted to take a step towards establishing support for the Women’s Fire Alliance. This move is in partnership with the City of Los Angeles, to create a sustainable nonprofit organization that fulfills the mission of the Women’s Fire Alliance.

Equal Access for Transgender People

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced their plan to roll back protections for transgender people experiencing homelessness. Allowing HUD-funded shelters to consider a person’s gender identity in determining whether they can be admitted not only reverses critical protections created under the Obama administration, it exacerbates homelessness among an already vulnerable population.

In a motion written by Supervisor Solis that I co-authored, the Board voted to send a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson opposing these transphobic changes to the Equal Access Rule.

Allowing federally-funded shelters to make gender determinations for people seeking their services is an underhanded attack on transgender and gender non-conforming people while allowing HUD to abdicate its responsibilities to protect vulnerable populations.