Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nithya Raman, 4th District, addressed a pair of chambers of commerce on May 14, stressing the importance of making an impact on the homelessness crisis and expressing her support for local businesses.
Raman addressed the Greater Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce via videoconference. In the Miracle Mile event, she spent much of the meeting deferring to chamber members, who provided updates on their individual businesses, and she answered a few questions relating to homelessness and how chamber members can connect with her staff. For the Hollywood chamber, she spoke more at length and answered a handful of questions, and many of which were also focused on homelessness, a focus of her campaign.
“To me, addressing homelessness is a win-win for all,” Raman said.
Raman wants to concentrate on “making sure people have regular access to outreach and services,” including assembling a team through her office. She also wants to create more drop-in centers for homeless people, places where they are “welcome for a coffee, for a sit down, a place where they can talk with a case manager.”
“I know that if we continue on the path we’re on now, if we expand the kinds of services, the kinds of housing units that we’re building and the mental-health resources we’re bringing to the table … that we will see results,” Raman said.
However, the “biggest barrier” – housing – remains, and Raman is seeking help from neighborhood groups such as the chambers of commerce in finding new sites to create housing units, whether they be vacant lots or existing hotels, motels and apartment buildings.
“You know this neighborhood better than us … You letting us know where those opportunities are will be really helpful,” Raman said.
While Raman sought help from business leaders on homelessness, she also expressed hope that she could help them by connecting companies struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic with aid.
“We will not be able to get out of this period without jobs. We just won’t. And we have to support job creators, job providers, to be able to really function and thrive,” Raman said.
Raman said she wanted to support restaurants and tourism in particular, as those industries were especially hard-hit by the pandemic.
Keeping in place some of the advances of the pandemic period, such as the al fresco dining program, will help with that, Raman said, as will providing aid for commercial operations that find themselves in debt due to unpaid rent.
“Supporting restaurants is a big part of making sure our tourist economy is thriving, and I do think eating your way through Los Angeles is a big part of the draw here now. It’s an international scene for food,” Raman said.
Raman said she plans to resume meeting with these groups in person as soon as it’s feasible and safe, and the Miracle Mile chamber proposed that she walk the neighborhood with them to hear from members first hand about local issues and the work that needs to be done.
“I’m delighted that we’re finally at a point where we can have community meetings … It’s the joy of the work, and we’ve been missing the joy of the work, interacting with people and meeting people where they are,” Raman said.
The GMMCC members said they feel the same, and they plan to keep the channels of communication open.
“No doubt, you’re going to be hearing from all of us sooner rather than later,” GMMCC Executive Director Meg McComb said.
Raman also had a special message for Hollywood.
“I’m really excited … to make this part of the city not just a destination for tourists, but in addition to that, a regional center for the 21st century, a place where people across the county are drawn not just to work and play, but to live,” Raman said.
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