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LA Times Article About Bring LA Home
June 13, 2003 LOS ANGELES TIMES
Leaders Hope to End Homelessness
Broadly based group called Bring LA Home forms with the
aim of erasing the problem in the region in 10 years.
By Carla Rivera, Times Staff Writer
A group of the Los Angeles area's top elected leaders,
including Mayor James K. Hahn and Sheriff Lee Baca, on Thursday
announced the creation of a new panel whose lofty goal will
be to end homelessness in the next decade.
The new group, called Bring LA Home, will include 50 representatives
from government, business, religious organizations, social
services, law enforcement, philanthropy, entertainment and
homeless individuals. They will meet over the next year
to draft a plan on such issues as affordable housing, mental
health care and treatment for substance abuse.
"We're not here to say how we can manage the problem
better or make it less of a problem but to come up with
a plan to end homelessness," Hahn said during a news
conference at the Los Angeles Men's Project, or LAMP, on
downtown's skid row. "We're going to focus on how we
can move people off the street and into places they can
call their own."
The coordinators will be the Los Angeles Homeless Services
Authority, formed in 1993 by the city and county, and the
Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness, an
advocacy group. Experts from the Economic Roundtable, a
nonprofit social research group, and the Institute for the
Study of Poverty and Homelessness at downtown L.A.'s Weingart
Center will provide assistance.
The new panel will hold public hearings and establish a
Web site to disburse information and gather input from the
community, said the Homeless Service Authority's executive
director, Mitchell Netburn.
The panel also will include two county supervisors, Yvonne
Brathwaite Burke and Zev Yaroslavsky; L.A. City Council
members Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti; Santa Monica Mayor
Richard Bloom; Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard; and Long Beach
Mayor Beverly O'Neill.
Studies from a decade ago suggest that as many as 84,000
people are homeless on any given night in Los Angeles County,
although there is a new push to update those numbers.
Hahn said as many as 40,000 people — many of them
families — may be homeless in his city and Mayor Bloom
said Santa Monica — with a population of about 84,000
— provided services last year to more than 2,500.
Los Angeles City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel said: "I
often want to take community leaders from the San Fernando
Valley, who only see homelessness in small pockets, and
drive them through skid row and say, 'This is homelessness.'
Just because you don't see it in your community doesn't
mean it doesn't exist."
Elected officials and advocates are under pressure to draft
a plan in line with President Bush's stated goal to end
chronic homelessness in 10 years. Efforts that show progress
on the streets are more likely to receive federal funds,
said Patricia Carlile, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the
Department of Housing and Urban Development, who spoke at
the news conference. She urged county officials to "think
out of the box" and "take some risks."
Baca said the county is soliciting help from HUD and Caltrans
to find parcels of government land on which emergency shelters
and transitional housing might be placed. He also said many
communities around the county will have to accept more services
for the homeless in their midst.
"There are a lot of myths about homeless people that
are not true," said Baca, a longtime advocate of such
services. "Some people will ask, 'Will my life be
if there's a homeless shelter in the neighborhood?' "
Baca said public safety is a priority for him and Los Angeles
Police Chief William Bratton.