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.
Community-based care for the MIST Population
This week, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion that will allow all who have been accused of misdemeanors, and who have been found “incompetent to stand trial”, to receive community-based restoration treatment instead of jail-based treatment.
The motion, which I authored with Supervisor Holly Mitchell, focuses on individuals accused of minor crimes. If these inmates did not have a serious mental illness, they would probably be kept in jail for only a few days. However, because they have been diagnosed as mentally ill and must be restored to competence before their case can be decided, they often remain in jail for a much longer time. That makes no sense legally, medically, or financially.
Community-based restoration provides a number of treatment advantages, allowing clinicians to match an individual with an appropriate level of services and a suitable treatment bed while offering a less restrictive environment in which to maintain connections to family and friends.
This week’s action represents one more step taken by the Board to build a care first, jail last system that will improve community health and safety.
“Double Bottom Line” Incentives for Property Owners
I’m really pleased that the Board passed my motion to create a Residential and Property Support Services Program (RPSS).
RPSS will compliment PATH’s LeaseUp Program, which identifies available apartments and helps us expand available units for people experiencing homelessness. RPSS will provide property owners with a monthly allowance for property management, repairs and maintenance, as well as onsite staff, allowing LAHSA and our providers the opportunity to secure entire apartment buildings across the County at more affordable rates for individuals leaving the temporary housing of Project Roomkey.
Through Project Roomkey, we were able to house thousands of medically vulnerable people experiencing homelessness, and we want to find ways to keep them housed permanently. As we deal with a pandemic that has worsened the underlying, systemic defects that drive this crisis, we need to pull out all the stops to open up units and bring landlords on board with our cause. This motion makes it even easier for LA landlords to do well while doing good.
Women and Girls Initiative Report
Fittingly, for the last Board meeting during Women’s History Month, the Women and Girl Initiative presented a report to the Board on their extensive work advancing gender equity in the County’s staffing, services, and partnerships.
Even in a year unlike any other, WGI made significant progress in all five of its stated goals. To celebrate the centennial of the 19th amendment and drive voter engagement, WGI developed a voter registration toolkit, created a timeline featuring 100 influential women who helped shape Los Angeles County, and redesigned their website so it served as a hub of information and resources about the 100th Anniversary celebration. WGI began work on a Gender Impact Assessment tool that will help the County view its policies, practices, and hiring processes through a gender lens, and developed the “Women In Tech Hiring Initiative.”
To advance its goal of creating operational pathways for At-Promise girls, WGI created an ad-hoc committee and participated in the Youth Justice Workgroup, focusing on ending the school-to-prison pipeline. Finally, WGI partnered with the CEO’s Economic Development Division to help add a gender lens to its reports, working with the division to incorporate gender data, when available, for the 2020 Economic Scorecard.
Special Prosecutor Contract
There is no question that the relationship between the police and many of the communities they are meant to serve is frayed. The only way that can possibly be repaired is through accountability. In the interest of restoring public trust and holding officers accountable for harmful misconduct, the Board approved a contract with Special Prosecutor Lawrence Middleton.
Lawrence Middleton was one of the attorneys who prosecuted the federal civil rights case against the four LAPD officers charged with violating the constitutional rights of Rodney King, for which he received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award. As Special Prosecutor for LA County, he will re-evaluate fatal officer-involved shootings, investigate, and if warranted by the evidence, prosecute on behalf of the DA, any activity by law enforcement officers potentially found to be criminal.
I am hopeful that this contract will be a positive step in rebuilding positive relationships in our community.
Housing for Transition Aged Youth
When young people exit foster care, it can be challenging to find resources and housing opportunities, especially now. The Board passed a pair of motions authored by Supervisor Hilda Solis, allowing DCFS to accept state funding to bolster County programs to help foster youth secure housing.
The funding will support the Transitional Housing Program Plus (THP-Plus) and Housing Navigators for Youth. The first program helps to provide housing in the critical age range of 18-25, and the state program Housing Navigators can assist youth with identifying appropriate and available housing options, help them access financial support for move-in costs, such as deposits, and provide stabilization support including budgeting, establishing utilities and landlord communication. Both programs are essential to help our foster youth lay a solid foundation, and better prepare to thrive.