Members of Los Angeles County’s homeless crisis response system announced a new initiative to revamp how city, county and federal agencies work together to increase the speed and effectiveness of moving people experiencing homelessness into housing.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has created the Housing Central Command, an initiative to simplify the tracking of housing availability, including how many homes are available, which are vacant and how quickly the thousands of case managers, providers and partners are moving people into them. HCC is based on a crisis response model developed by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development to rehouse people after natural disasters.
While homeless services agencies are collaborating more closely, the decentralized structure of local governments and government authorities in Los Angeles County continues to present unique challenges to the homeless services system. To respond to those challenges, HCC includes representatives from Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the Los Angeles County Development Authority, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti’s office, the County Department of Health Services and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. The HCC is meeting daily under a planned restructuring of LAHSA.
“Housing Central Command represents a new approach to refine our rehousing system,” said Heidi Marston, interim executive director of LAHSA. “Getting everyone in the same room at the same time lets us see the inventory we can use to bring our neighbors home. When we turn complex inter-agency interactions into face-to-face communications, we get more people into more homes quicker and with less red tape. We can set system goals across jurisdictional lines for the first time, and we can achieve them.”
Every day, an average of 130 people experiencing homelessness move into housing, while 150 more people become homeless. As the underlying economic forces pushing people into homelessness show no sign of abating, an internal restructuring by LAHSA can remove obstacles that have hampered effective response and prevented the full use of available resources such as housing inventory.
HCC will begin testing in service planning in the Metro and East Los Angeles areas later this week. A vacancy dashboard on housing availability will serve as a model.
HCC has also begun to address $30 million out of a $106.5 million 2017 grant from HUD to the Los Angeles Continuum of Care that had gone unspent within a required one-year time frame. HUD has indicated a willingness to extend the deadline for housing grants that were scheduled to expire.
“It’s unacceptable to leave money on the table that has been allocated to ending homelessness,” Marston said. “The work of the HCC showed us how seemingly small obstacles added up to death by a thousand cuts. Through it, we can examine each problem, address it and get the people who are in our system into their new homes faster.”
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