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.
A New Department of Arts and Culture
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Board passed a motion brought by Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, which I co-authored, directing the Chief Executive’s Office to move forward with transitioning the current Arts Commission into a full County Department. This is a direct and powerful way to recognize and elevate the importance of arts as a central driver in the quality of life, education, and economy in Los Angeles County!
You might be surprised to learn that creativity is one of LA’s most essential economic assets. According to the 2017 Otis Report on the Creative Economy, the total creative output generated by industries within the region’s creative economy was $190 billion in 2015. It also employed 759,000 people, which accounted for 1 in 8, or about 15 percent, of all private wage and salary workers in the region.
The LA County Arts Commission was initially established 70 years ago and has grown since then from solely supporting local music performances to supporting hundreds of nonprofit organizations and functioning as a full-service local arts agency. Today the Arts Commission funds 364 nonprofit arts organizations through a two-year $9 million grant program, runs the largest arts internship program in the country, coordinates the LA County Arts Education Collective, manages the County’s civic art policy, and produces free community programs.
Funding for Measure H
I am very excited to announce that this week the Board of Supervisors approved a $402 million spending plan for 2018-2019 to widen and intensify the County’s fight against homelessness.
Measure H was passed by voters in March 2017. Services began to ramp up three months later and, in the nine months between July 2017 and March 2018, thousands of individuals and families have been helped.
The County is on track to meet the initial five-year goal of Measure H—to provide permanent housing for 45,000 families and individuals while preventing an additional 30,000 from falling into homelessness. Measure H is already making a difference. Last year 10,330 people entered crisis, bridge and interim housing funded in whole or in part by Measure H, and 5,239 homeless families and individuals secured permanent housing due specifically to funding from Measure H. In addition, hundreds of people have joined the staffs of our homeless service providers to help connect men and women experiencing homelessness to services and housing.
Tuesday’s vote was an important milestone in continuing the difficult and essential work of bringing help and hope to our homeless neighbors. The Measure H spending plan builds on proven strategies and puts resources where they’re needed most. As we enter the second year of this unprecedented effort it is encouraging to see this collaborative process going forward in ways that are literally saving lives.
Our nonprofit partners are still hiring new staff to help us reduce homelessness. If you are interested in a “paycheck with a purpose”, you can find information here.
Celebrating Green Leadership
I was also thrilled to honor the group of young eco-leaders pictured above who are helping our schools reduce their trash and go green!
Grades of Green was founded in 2008 at Grand View Elementary school by four moms wanting a better world for their children. After receiving an award from the EPA, the founders created a non-profit so that other schools would have easy access to the tools and information needed to empower and inspire students to care for the environment.
Since the inception of the Grades of Green Trash-Free Lunch Challenge 7 years ago, participating schools have decreased lunchtime trash by an average of 70%, and winning schools reduced trash by 90%! And this is just one of the more than 40 Grades of Green activities that instill environmental values in students.
At the Board meeting, I had the opportunity to present scrolls to four students from the Third District in recognition of their green leadership: Johanna James and Averie May Perrin from Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, as well as Noah Skoog and Braeden Riley from St Mark School in Venice. I was happy to be able to honor these outstanding members of the Grades of Green Youth Corps Eco-Leadership program.
From Detention to Vocation
I am extremely proud to report that the Board of Supervisors voted to approve a motion by myself and Supervisor Hilda L. Solis to completely transform the recently decommissioned Probation Camp Gonzales into a first-in-the-nation residential career and educational training center for young men aged 18-25.
The facility will offer a live-in career training program for young men who have been supervised by probation, involved in foster care, and/or are homeless. The program will include career technical training in the fields of building and construction trades or food service/culinary arts, wrap-around services, life skills training, free housing, and guaranteed job placement. For those who do not have a high school diploma, a fully accredited diploma program will be available.
This groundbreaking motion represents another milestone in realizing the County’s vision to give all of our young people the support and skills they need to set them on a path to success. They say it takes a village to raise a child and in this case, the village includes partners in the community, philanthropy and in County departments. I am grateful to them all!
An Inspired Invocation by Rev. Eric Shafer
The faith-based community is absolutely critical in our mission to end homelessness, so I was pleased to kick off this week’s board meeting with a prayer invocation by a tireless advocate for the homeless, and the Senior Pastor of Mt Olive Lutheran Church, Reverend Eric Shafer.
Reverend Shafer has been the senior pastor at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Santa Monica since 2014 and has quickly established himself as a leading partner from the religious community in our efforts to end homelessness throughout Los Angeles County.
One of the many ways his congregation has helped men and women experiencing homelessness is through a collaboration with UCLA students to create a shelter specifically for homeless college students in Santa Monica. At the Board meeting this week I was grateful to have the chance to thank Mt. Olive Lutheran Church and Reverend Shafer for their leadership.