By Connie Acosta, Echo Park NC Board Member
On January 6, the Housing Committee of the L.A. Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates led by Barbara Ringuette met with Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) for a brief rundown of their program and funding. LAHSA is an independent agency established by the County and City of Los Angeles whose primary goal is to coordinate funding in providing services to homeless people throughout the City and County of Los Angeles.
“We are a pass-through entity,” said Stuart Jackson, Chief Finance Officer of LAHSA. “We receive funds from the City, County, and the federal government –U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and we pass it on to nonprofits in the community to do the foot work.”
LAHSA works with the City and County of Los Angeles, and HUD partners to do an Annual Needs Assessment for the community. Last year, their collaborative effort culminated in the County Homeless Initiatives and City Homeless Strategies. Additional partners include the County Department of Health Services, County Department of Mental Health and the United Way.
“We came together with a needs assessment of what types of programs are needed to address homelessness in our community, and created the Homeless Initiatives and Strategies that were approved by the County Board of Supervisors and Los Angeles City Council,” said Stuart Jackson. Based on the programs of need that were identified, the County and City provided funds to LAHSA.
“We fine tuned the programs of need. Put them into a working process, then asked our nonprofit partners to submit proposals for funding following the guidelines of the program that they’ll be doing,” said Stuart Jackson.
The challenge is the timing of going through the process with the nonprofit partners: Creating a list for proposals, opening a window for submission, and the scoring of the proposals that require both time and the funding. Most of the programs were ready to be funded by October 1st, said Jackson. He added that because of the lengthy process, in a sense it seems as though “we’re just getting started.” Nonprofits that were funded have experienced growth in a short period of time, as LASHA has also, he said.
Agency funds services that range from street outreach to several different shelter types for families and singles. It includes several housing intervention types – from supportive rapid and transitional housing with short-term financial assistance to permanent supportive housing with in depth services and ongoing rental subsidies, explained the Director of Programs Paul Duncan.
Jackson added that the main increases in funding this year have been for Rapid Re-Housing accommodating Singles and Youth Systems. In the past, United Way funded these Rapid re-housing through fundraising and other activities as a pilot program. Now that Rapid Housing has become a proven system of excellence for the community, it’s been incorporated into our government structure. Last year was the first year that the City and County funded rapid housing for singles and youth, Jackson said.
This year, LAHSA’s staff increased 100 %. Personnel doubled from 100 to 200 to manage the increased funding we have received from the City, County and HUD, said Jackson.
Director of Communications Tom Walden added that LAHSA has 80 emergency response team members in the field, “a doubling from last year.” There are now more field workers dispersed throughout the City and County of Los Angeles engaging everyday with the homeless in the streets, and especially where there’s a concentration of homelessness such as Venice, Downtown, and Hollywood, said Walden.
Funding Increase for Fiscal Year 2016-2017 (Per Records viewed on 01/06/17)
- LAHSA’s funding from City, County, State, and HUD for FY 2016-17 increased 35% or slightly over $34.5 Million. The total funding for the whole Program and Operations was slightly over $132.1 Million.
- There was a 53% increase or an additional $20.3 Million from the City of Los Angeles’ General Fund, totaling $58.5 Million.
- While some County funding programs for the homeless dissolved others emerged. The County’s Homeless Strategy Initiative dedicates nearly $12.9 Million for services to the homeless. In addition, a new state grant with funds nearing $1.5 Million has been committed by the state.
- Department of Public and Social Services for families increased funding to the homeless by 51% or $5.7 Million, totaling about $17 Million. Also, the Department of Children and Family Services increased funding by $861,180. totaling nearly $3 Million. “The latter funds are for foster care youth,” said Jackson.
- HUD increased funding by 12% or nearly $2.9 Million, a total of $26.9 Million for the Continuum of Care Program that includes: Permanent Housing, Rapid Re-Housing, Transition Housing, and Supportive Services.
Coordinated Entry Systems
The fastest growing homeless population is women said Walden. We’ve seen an increase in the last three years, and often single women with kids, he said.
Walden explained that using the Coordinated Entry System (CES), LAHSA is able to coordinate the different populations serviced: Homeless Families, and the Singles and Youth System. It tracks histories, shows where individuals are in the process as well as the assistance each individual received.
“This is a better way to coordinate our services throughout the continuum of care for individuals,” he said.
Service Planning Area (SPA)
There are seven Service Planning Areas in Los Angeles County. Each SPA covers nearby communities. For example, SPA 4 —North East Los Angeles (NELA)— encompasses 13 neighboring communities. LAHSA allocates funding across the county based on the geographical need of the particular SPA, said Duncan. “We try to distribute funds based on our homeless count,” he said.
LAHSA’s Winter Shelter Program provides homeless adults with overnight shelter, meals, showers, and case management services from December 1 – March 1. Free daily transportation is available to and from the shelters by going to any of the pick-up locations. Shelter Hotline: 1(800) 548-6047
“I can’t force someone to move into housing. Therefore, I have to build a relation and through that relationship, hopefully, I built a trust that I’m looking for their
best interest,” Paul explained. “We have success that we can quantify.”
Connie Acosta is a Board Member of the Echo Park Neighborhood Council and frequently reports for the Housing Committee of the NC Budget Advocates