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.
West LA VA Building 207
This week the Board authorized the issuance of $22 million in Multifamily Housing Mortgage Revenue Bonds to finance the acquisition of and rehab of West LA VEterans’ Administration (VA) Building 207. This action also allows the City and County to enter into an Interlocal Cooperation Agreement, expanding our options for financing this project.
Shamefully, veterans experience homelessness at a rate higher than the general population, and often their misfortune is compounded by other issues like PTSD or physical disabilities from their time of service to our country. The 2018 point-in-time homeless count recorded 3,886 veterans who were homeless in Los Angeles County. As a result of targeted efforts focused on housing and wraparound services, this represents an 18% decrease as compared with 2017 numbers, but the fact is that any veteran experiencing homelessness is one too many.
Once this building is acquired and fully renovated, 60 units will become a place to call home for our homeless and chronically homeless veterans. We thank veterans for their service, but we must also ensure that the services they need are available to them here at home.
Health Care Needs of the Homeless
The Board also passed a motion authored by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis to improve healthcare services for people experiencing homelessness, making sure our methods are effective based on their actual needs and circumstances.
While the County works on building and getting people into housing, we also need to meet people where they are when it comes to providing medical care. This includes utilizing “street teams” made up of outreach workers, mental health professionals and doctors, and partnering with homeless service providers. The mortality rate for people experiencing homelessness is higher than that in the general population, and it’s rising. Two of the top causes of death, coronary heart disease and accidental drug/alcohol overdoses, can be prevented with interventional medical care and treatment.
The motion directs the County’s three health departments to work together to identify opportunities to enhance access to health services, facilitate treatment for people experiencing homelessness, and provide linkages to needed services. Encouraging innovative methods to bring healthcare to people experiencing homelessness will save lives and remove barriers to stable health and housing.
Domestic Violence Examinations
I am very pleased that the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Kathryn Barger that will explore the use of forensic exams in domestic violence cases and how we might be able to expand access, which will provide more evidence to back up victim’s claims in these hard to prosecute cases.
Domestic and family violence thrives in silence and darkness. Like forensic tests in sexual assault cases, Domestic Violence Forensic exams can shed light on crucial evidence of an abuser’s crime. For example, when an abuser hits their victim in a way that does not show visible bruises, technology exists that can detect bruising under the skin. However, unlike sexual assault exams, costs for Domestic Violence Forensic exams are not covered by law enforcement and may fall on victims, causing people to opt out. This motion calls for a thorough report on these exams and how they can be used to break the cycle of family violence.
This report is the first opportunity for LA County to determine how prevalent the need is for Domestic Violence Forensic exams and how the County could increase the availability of these voluntary exams in a manner that allows the victim to avoid incurring additional medical expenses. Expanding these exams would also enable the County to connect victims with other support systems that could provide immediate assistance and comfort. This motion is consistent with the County’s desire to address violence as a public health issue and look for innovative and meaningful ways to assist those who are dealing with domestic violence.
Services for Pregnant Women Experiencing Homelessness
Continuing our focus on finding innovative ways to address the healthcare needs of our homeless constituents, the Board passed a motion authored by Supervisor Solis directing the Department of Public Health, Department of Mental Health, Department of Children and Family Services, and First 5 LA to work together on a plan to better serve women experiencing homelessness who are pregnant.
This motion seeks to find a way to bring effective home-visiting services to pregnant women, particularly African American women, who may not have a stable home. African American women are at the highest risk of adverse birth outcomes and maternal health impairment, have the highest rate of maternal deaths, and also have the highest probability among other races to experience homelessness at some point during pregnancy. Clearly, there is a serious healthcare disparity at play here, and this motion aims to address that by finding creative ways to deliver a diverse range of supportive services to our constituents who are falling through the cracks.
Traffic Regulations along PCH
The Board approved new parking regulations along a stretch of the PCH near Costa Mesa at this week’s meeting. The County has been working with the Coastal Commission for around a year to ensure these regulations encourage public access to the coast, but don’t allow for inappropriate hogging of the spaces. A few weeks ago, the Coastal Commission approved the changes. The regulations apply to a small stretch of PCH, from Topanga Canyon Blvd to Coastline Drive. The new regulations should facilitate parking turnover, opening up parking for more people to enjoy the coast throughout the day.