LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced Thursday that she’s authored a motion to create a Blue-Ribbon Commission on Homelessness that would provide recommendations to the board on ways to solve the homelessness crisis.

“The creation of a Blue-Ribbon Commission is critical to finally address that homelessness is a serious crisis,” Barger said.

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Blue-ribbon commissions are typically made up of experts in a specific field and function to give recommendations, though the commission itself holds no power.

Barger said the status quo is no longer working and that it’s time to collaborate with service providers, government agencies and city representatives across the county to come up

A cyclist rides past a Skid Row sign in Los Angeles, California on February 1, 2021. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

with new approaches and solutions to bring those suffering homelessness off the street and provide them with the care and services they deserve.

“We cannot wait another day before upending our existing systems and approaches while vulnerable residents are dying and left to languish on our streets,” the county supervisor said.

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Barger is proposing a nine member commission — five appointed by county supervisors and four the Los Angeles mayor, City Council president, the Contract Cities Association and Councils of Government. The group would research homelessness governance reports and best practices from cities across the U.S., as well as take into account how mental health care and substance abuse services are currently offered to people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles and how it can be improved. They would also review the Joint Powers Authority that governs the county’s participation in the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. That review would include an assessment of the powers and limitations of the organization and fiscal and operational consequences if the county decides to withdraw from it.

The Los Angeles City Council is also exploring an exit from LAHSA and two council members — Paul Koretz and Joe Buscaino — introduced a motion to prepare the city for a potential withdrawal.

“While the county has tried valiantly through the years to develop programs to serve people experiencing homelessness, we need to hear from our partners at the local level — those representatives from the 88 cities throughout the county, along with our Councils of Governments and our contract cities partners — to vastly improve our work on homelessness,” Barger said. “It is my ardent hope that this all-hands-on-deck approach will provide the depth of thought and critical feedback necessary to find solutions. In addition, this effort is intended to improve accountability, transparency and inclusivity for all involved.”

Barger’s motion proposes that the commission hold regularly scheduled meetings with county departments, agencies, stakeholders, service providers and local leaders. If the motion is approved, the commission would present its report with recommendations and assessments to the board within six months.

 

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