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Homeless in the SCV

L.A. County unveils roadmap to address homelessness

Posted: November 26, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 26, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Los Angeles County administrators are taking steps to unify various homeless services under one authority to better address the needs of the homeless.

As it stands, the county does not have a singular, unified department to address the problem of homelessness or the factors that contribute to it.

Several departments, including the Los Angeles County Public Health and Mental Health departments, work together to tackle the problem, according to Phillip Chen, health deputy for Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

“We’ve always worked together,” Chen said. “But we want to make sure there’s not a duplication of services and that we are treating the issues of homelessness by treating those issues that contribute to it.”

Members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted earlier this year to create a county “interdepartmental council on homelessness” with the goal of identifying a definitive set of plans to combat homelessness within the county.

The county’s plan seeks to achieve five primary outcomes: the development of more permanent, shared housing; improved data sharing between county agencies; creation of more closely integrated health and social service teams; more integrated funding for homeless services; a solid legislative platform to address issues related to homelessness.

This plan is outlined in the county’s “Roadmap for Addressing Homelessness,” which was released Nov. 15.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky labeled the report “a guide to where we’re going” but warned in a statement, “It’s only as good as the drivers behind the wheel, and clearly, there will be many detours, off-ramps and obstacles to navigate before we reach our destination.”

According to Tim Davis, executive director of the Santa Clarita Valley’s emergency winter homeless shelter, the shelter provided services to 254 individuals and 19 families from December 2011 to March 2012.

Almost three-quarters of the population served by the shelter last year were male. Seventeen self-reported they were mentally ill, 29 said they had some sort of substance-abuse problem and 26 were veterans, according to the statistics Davis provided.

According to the 2011 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count Report, the San Fernando Valley service-planning area, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley, had a homeless population of 4,727 in 2011, a 26 percent increase over the 2009 population.

This is in contrast to the overall decrease in the homeless population of Los Angeles County during the same period.

Neither Santa Clarita nor the Santa Clarita Valley has region-specific information on file with the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority.

The authority plans to conduct another homeless count that will be released in 2013. Santa Clarita will be a participating city in that survey and will provide city-specific data for analysis, according to city spokeswoman Jessica Jackson.




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