LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The outreach agency that is supposed to help the homeless get off the streets of Los Angeles was criticized Wednesday in a report by the controller for not doing enough.
The report found that the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority did not show improvement between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years. LAHSA failed to meet five of the eight citywide outreach goals it had set for 2018-19, the report found. Among those goals was placing 10 percent of the homeless individuals it assessed into permanent housing. The agency was only able to place 4 percent of them.
“It is all together unacceptable,” Ron Galperin, Los Angeles controller, said.
Despite the money the city has allocated to the homeless crisis, the number of people on the streets continues to grow, which is why Galperin’s office has spent the last year auditing LAHSA.
“As controller, it’s my job to examine how we’re spending our money in the city of Los Angeles, to make sure that those dollars are transparent and to make sure that they are actually achieving the result that they should be achieving,” Galperin said.
He said too many of LAHSA’s outreach programs are reactive. Teams respond when there are complaints of people on the streets, but he said not enough was being done to prevent people from becoming homeless. He also said there needed to be a better way to measure homeless statistics, so resources can go to the right places.
Those who work with LAHSA agreed with some of Galperin’s findings.
“It’s always good to look at the processes,” Heidi Marston, LAHSA chief program officer, said. “It’s always good to question, ‘Are we measuring the right thing?'”
But they said some of Galperin’s numbers were misleading — LAHSA is working to not just tackle homelessness in the city, but in the county as well. And they said there was only so much that can be done when there simply are not enough places for those in need.
“We can’t lose sight of permanent housing at the end,” Marston said. “That is going to be the true way we resolve homelessness in L.A.”
In the meantime, as permanent housing is constructed, Galperin said he hoped that at least some of his recommendations would be adopted.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said he enjoyed the report and was able to share with Galperin some ways he felt LAHSA could be more proactive in its outreach efforts.
“Any suggestions to improve the efficacy of (LAHSA) and the quickness with which we can get people from the streets to our beds and shelters, I welcome as well,” Garcetti said. “And I think there are some good suggestions that are in there.”
However, Garcetti said the report was based on a snapshot from 18 months ago when the city only had 25 outreach workers — about 800 additional outreach workers have been brought in to address the growing crisis. He also said that more than 20 new homeless shelters are being built, along with 10,000 new permanent housing units.