Supervisor Hahn Leads Effort to Expand and Enhance Shelter System in LA County Amid Homeless Crisis
Los Angeles, CA — Today, the Board of Supervisors passed a motion offered by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis to study options to expand and enhance Los Angeles County’s current emergency shelter system and make them 24/7 year-round facilities.
Currently, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) operates emergency shelters through the Winter Shelter Program from December to March. Through this program, 1400 beds are available on any given night during the winter months. These winter shelters have restricted hours of operation and participants leave the facilities at 7 am and return to the shelter later in the afternoon.
While this model has been helpful in protecting people from dangerous winter conditions, studies have shown that 24/7 year-round shelters (called bridge or crisis housing) have higher success rates for connecting participants with services and into permanent housing.
“I think that the thinking has been off– that the less shelter you provide people the more you encourage them to seek permanent housing. We are seeing that is not the case,” said Supervisor Hahn, the motion’s lead author. “More stable situations that provide more reliable shelter do much better in helping people get back on their feet.”
“There is a critical need for the County to expand the Emergency Shelter System. This must include not only refurbishing current facilities, but also locating new sites,” said Supervisor Solis. “Many of these shelters provide resources, clinical services, and rehabilitation treatments. To the extent possible, these services should be provided throughout the system.”
Supervisor Hahn and Solis offered a motion to instruct the CEO in collaboration with LAHSA to identify a plan for expanding the County’s current winter shelters to year-round bridge housing facilities that would operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These shelters would allow clients to be assessed and triaged according to housing, health, mental health, substance abuse, and social service needs.
The motion also instructs these facilities to have a “low threshold” for shelter eligibility so that homeless families/individuals/youth can easily enter and remain in the shelter without restrictive requirements that either preempt entry into the shelter or force people to leave before they can transition to permanent housing. Each facility should also accommodate space for pets or else Animal Care and Control should make alternative arrangements for a homeless individual’s pet’s care.
“By pursuing a more comprehensive approach I am hopeful that we can not only provide better temporary shelter for these individuals, but also give people an opportunity to get their life back on track and get into permanent housing,” continued Supervisor Hahn.
The motion passed with unanimous support. The CEO and LAHSA will report back to the Board in 45 days.