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Cities seek county funds to fight homelessness

LOS ANGELES — Various cities in Los Angeles County have gotten the opportunity to create a unique, localized plan specific toward their area to combat homelessness.

The United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ Home for Good Funders Collaborative and Los Angeles County came together to conceive an innovative grant program that saw 47 of the county’s 88 cities submit applications, including Inglewood, Hawthorne and Carson

The idea for the city planning grants was a request of the cities and their specific interest in ending homelessness on a strategic and regional level. The county took their requests, discussed them, and made sure they rose up as a priority during Measure H planning process.

“United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ Home For Good Funders Collaborative worked with a group of private and public funders to design the application and review process,” said Chris Ko, director of homeless initiatives for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.

“Each application that we received was reviewed by a county CEO staff member, United Way staff member and two volunteers from our Home For Good Funders Collaborative,” Ko said. “Their scores and comments were all collected and utilized in the award deliberation meetings that followed with reviewers and with the other members of Funders Collaborative.”

Each city will receive a planning grant ranging from $30,000 to $70,000, depending on the number of homeless families and individuals within its municipal boundaries.

West Hollywood is one of the grantees.

“We’re excited and grateful,” said Corri Plank, project manager of the West Hollywood Homeless Initiative.

“West Hollywood has a long history of serving its vulnerable population including its homeless community members. This is another opportunity for us to look at some of the various pieces of data on our homeless community, to look at strategies that are included in the county initiatives, to look at some of the things we’ve been doing and we look at what our social service providers are doing.”

Recently, the city did a partnership with Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to conduct a demographic survey of its homeless community. Now, city officials have a good profile of who is in their city and how they came to be homeless, Plank said.

Each city will have until March 2018 to create an individual plan.

“I hope we will be able to have a plan that is short term and immediate, but also really gets to some vision and strategies for some long term,” Plank said. “It’s going to take a while to solve this problem. The easy answer is housing, but then there isn’t any other easy answer.”

Culver City also has received a grant. That city is looking forward to creating its own strategies to put together and update a more current approach to homelessness.

“The first step we will take is information gathering and understanding the population,” said Tevis Barnes, housing administrator for Culver City. “The second step is outreach to the community on how to address homelessness.”

Launched in July 2017, the program called on cities to submit applications outlining how they would create localized blueprints for action in collaboration with the county and its contractors, who are funded by the voter-approved Measure H sales tax.

It was financed by an allocation of more than $2 million from the county Board of Supervisors.

“When the Board of Supervisors launched the County Homeless Initiative in August 2015, there was a pervasive sense of despair about homelessness across Los Angeles County,” said Phil Ansell, director of the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative.

“Support for Measure H by nearly 70 percent of voters was clear evidence of the wave of hope sweeping across Los Angeles County, as was the decision by 47 cities to apply for grants to develop city plans to prevent and combat homelessness.”

On Nov. 29, representatives from each of the awarded cities will come together to kick-off their planning grant process in downtown Los Angeles.

Throughout the planning process there will be workshops to provide more learning and discussion spaces across cities, as well as ongoing support to individual cities.

This the first type of grant process in the country and there is curiosity from other cities.

“We can tell you that we’ve already been contacted by cities and counties in other regions that are interested in learning from this process,” Ko said.

The full list of city grantees can be found at http://homeforgoodla.org/announcement.


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