Increase in Homeless Count Does Not Deter Supervisor Kuehl

Disappointed at the increase in the recent Homeless Count, Third District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, in her June 6 e-mail newsletter, Kuehl Happenings, expressed optimism and tenacity about what it will take to mitigate, if not solve the growing problem of homelessness.

She notes that: “We housed or sheltered almost as many people as were in the total count last year. Our many approaches did work for thousands who would otherwise still be homeless.”

Following are her written remarks from Happenings. For Supervisor Kuehl’s compelling full remarks:

This week, at the Board, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), presented the results of their 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. Many were disheartened and disappointed that, despite all our efforts, there was an overall 12 percent increase in homelessness in LA County. Many opined that nothing seemed to be working and said the County had failed.

Certainly, the County can and will do more and more. But, as you’ll hear if you listen to my remarks that day, I do feel some pride at many things we have done right. To say the County is not solving the problem is like 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, most of them victims of the economy—staggering rising rents and shortages in affordable housing—

no matter how many tens of thousands we housed last year.

We are redoubling our efforts at the County level. But I also deeply hope that more of our cities will pass rent stabilization laws to protect families struggling to make their monthly rent, provide eviction defense services, site and 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 if not downright impossible.

The greatest losses in help have been at the national level, from Reagan’s 80 percent cut to affordable housing funds, to today’s HUD being virtually MIA on housing help. And things have only gotten worse and worse. Over the last decade, LA County has lost more than $500 million we used to have for housing.

The latest count tells us that we must continue working at every level on every front, and LA County is all in.


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