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.
Expanding Proven Harm Reduction Strategies
A recent Department of Public Health (DPH) report analyzed the bases for mortality among people experiencing homelessness and found a whopping 84% increase in fatal overdoses in the last few years. We must take action to save lives.
The Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis to increase harm reduction strategies, including expanding the provision of Naloxone (Narcan), needle exchange programs, and medically assisted treatment, as well as strategizing expansion so that we more effectively reach people experiencing homelessness.
For years, The County has operated life-saving, harm reduction services, but we have never targeted people experiencing homelessness. The DPH report made clear that drug overdoses have a devastating impact on one of our most vulnerable communities. This motion will expand proven programs and make sure that our unhoused residents can access them. It represents another step forward as we build a ‘care first’ system for all of our residents.
Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot
We want to make equity a hallmark of the post-pandemic economy. Throughout the pandemic, we saw the ways in which deeply entrenched inequities often affected the difference between life or death outcomes for low-income County residents. Before the onset of the pandemic, there were a growing number of pilots centered on studying ways to provide a guaranteed income in order to improve the ability of our vulnerable populations to recover snd thrive. Overwhelmingly, the results show that people participating in these programs spent the money on basic needs, including food, merchandise, utilities, and auto costs, and, given help to tide them over life’s low points, experience better ability to seek and gain employment and decreased feelings of anxiety and depression.
This week, we passed a motion that I co-authored with Supervisor Mitchell, asking the CEO to establish a Guaranteed Income Pilot Program (Pilot) plan in the next 60 days. It will involve 1,000 County residents for three years at a minimum of $1,000/month. Eligible participants may include:
• Women living at or below the poverty level who were released from incarceration in the last 7 years.
• Transition Age Youth (TAY) head of households.
• Domestic Violence Survivors head of households.
Combined with local city efforts, LA County will host, in the aggregate, one of the largest guaranteed basic income pilots in the country with at least 4,300 participants. That positions LA County to be a national frontrunner in rebuilding a thriving economy for all.
Removing Financial Burdens for Families of Incarcerated People
I was pleased to support a motion authored by Supervisor Hilda Solis that calls for transparency and analysis of incarceration’s additional, hidden and undue costs.
The motion tackles the exorbitant cost of inmate phone calls, which place a steep financial burden on the families of incarcerated people, who are just trying to maintain a healthy social connection to their loved ones. The motion seeks an analysis on who is really profiting from these calls as well as significantly marked-up commissary items like soap and toothpaste and how LA County might follow the lead of cities like New York, San Francisco, and San Diego and make phone calls from jail free.
Social connection supports mental health and overall wellbeing, as well as lower rates of recidivism. If our overarching goal is to encourage rehabilitation and reintegration, we should be removing barriers to engaging support networks, not profiting off the human need for connection.
Expanding Vaccine Access through Employee Paid Leave
To further eliminate barriers to vaccination, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis approving an urgency ordinance that entitles employees in unincorporated areas of the County up to 4 hours paid leave per injection to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
It is in everyone’s best interest for as many people as possible to get vaccinated. We don’t want working LA County residents to get left behind because they can’t afford to take the time. This ordinance will allow more people to take the time to protect themselves, their families, and their communities from COVID-19.
Rapid Response Plan to Protect LA County Trees
Have you heard of the Invasive Shot Hole Borer Beetle? This tiny beetle can cause massive damage by boring barely visible tunnels in tree trunks, sowing fungus along the way, eventually causing stress and dieback, leading to severe ecological and agricultural repercussions throughout LA County.
At this week’s Board Meeting, we passed a motion I authored, co-authored by Supervisor Solis, to request the Office of Sustainability, Regional Planning, and AC/WM to develop a coordinated Early Detection and Rapid Response Program as well as outreach, to address the problem of invasive beetle infestations in the County. This program aims to create the coordination systems needed to address the maze of tree treatment permits throughout the various jurisdictions in the County so that infestations can be handled promptly and effectively, with minimal impact on the environment.