From City News Service
LOS ANGELES — The county Board of Supervisors has approved $7 million in funding to staff teams of medical and mental health professionals to reach out to homeless people on the streets and in shelters.
Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis recommended expanding the county’s safety net June 2.
“If we are to end homelessness, we must scale up our response to fit the overwhelming need,” Ridley-Thomas said.
The seven teams of medical and mental health professionals will target homeless single adults with severe mental illness, with the goal of helping them find permanent supportive housing.
Homeless single adults with mental illness frequently wind up in county emergency rooms or in jail.
Homelessness countywide has increased 12 percent in the last two years — to 44,359 people — according to recent counts by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and cities of Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach. About two-thirds of those people are living in cars, parks, sidewalks and abandoned buildings.
Looking at the concentrations of homelessness revealed by the count, Ridley-Thomas and Solis called for adding one more team to Skid Row and finding funding to increase the size of the teams in South Los Angeles, the South Bay and the San Fernando Valley.
“It is imperative that resources are targeted to the areas with the greatest geographic burden and need, as demonstrated by the latest homeless count,” Ridley-Thomas said.
A report on additional funding is expected back in early August.