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May 27, 2020 | September 23, 2020 | 13,039 total views



View Heidi’s PowerPoint presentation


Recent strategic overhaul will assist efforts to rehouse 15,000 must vulnerable people experiencing homelessness

At today’s Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) presented its plan to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis with thousands of Los Angeles County’s most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness safe in housing. The plan envisions a strengthened rehousing system that addresses racial inequity and is prepared for future crises.

“Coronavirus laid a sudden crisis on top of the long-standing catastrophe of homelessness,” said Heidi Marston, Interim Executive Director of LAHSA. “We’re planning a way through that allows us to take care of the most vulnerable and build capacity for the future.”

The plan maps out short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies that will guide LA’s response across housing, shelter, unsheltered homelessness, prevention and problem solving strategies, and strengthening system capacity.

The strategy is centered around an ambitious goal to rapidly move the 15,000 most high-risk, high-acuity people experiencing homelessness into housing. Given the challenges of LA’s rental market, this L.A. Rehousing Recovery Strategy will require a large-scale effort to acquire and lease-up property, and build out a new level of efficiency and real-time awareness of LA’s rapid rehousing and permanent supportive housing inventory. It will also depend on continued emergency investments from local, state and the federal government.

The recovery plan as presented elevates five key values:

  1. No one who has come indoors should return to the street. Everyone placed in emergency shelter during the COVID-19 crisis will be placed into some form of interim housing, rapid rehousing or permanent supportive housing.
  2. House the most vulnerable. Using age and medical condition, LAHSA has identified 15,000 of the most vulnerable unsheltered people, and prioritized them for rehousing.
  3. Stop the inflow. Evidence suggests that more people than ever have fallen into homelessness in the past year, and policy must prioritize interventions to prevent continued inflow.
  4. Prepare the system for future crises. Build capacity across the system to facilitate scaling up quickly in public health emergencies. 
  5. Ensure racial equity. Prioritize advancing racial equity in how we approach and deploy all programs and interventions.

Rehousing people who have come indoors during the crisis will be aided by the same strategic realignment within LAHSA that resulted in Housing Central Command (HCC), a collaborative effort located at LAHSA that coordinates actions among city, county and federal agencies and is developing real-time visibility into all housing assets.

Extending the coordinated approach of HCC--a unified command structure that spans government entities--will allow LAHSA to transition vulnerable Project Roomkey and other emergency shelter occupants into appropriate housing resources faster than ever before, including permanent supportive housing.

This will require the following system improvements and enhancements:

  • Identifying and acquiring housing units and properties, and deploying holding fees
  • Increasing ability to quickly match and assign available housing units to clients 
  • Dedicated staff to help people find and move in to available units
  • Inventory management system to enable active tracking of available resources
  • Buy and pre-assemble move-in kits at scale, so residents have basic supplies
  • Real-time awareness of housing units that will become available in the next 7 days

Alongside the rehousing strategy, intensified street outreach will help reach other vulnerable people experiencing homelessness with health care and other navigational resources, placing them into new or vacated Project Roomkey rooms. Additional training of Project Roomkey staff will allow them to provide legal services and other assistance.

The plan envisions these increased supports for people experiencing homelessness at the same time as it projects strengthening the systems that prevent and end homelessness. It calls for zoning reforms, safety net enhancements, workforce training coordination and legal services that can curtail inflow into homelessness and speed up the routes out of it. 

LAHSA’s plan builds on the progress of the coordinated city/county response to COVID-19, which includes the following, as reported at the LAHSA Commission meeting on May 22:

Project Roomkey, which is currently providing shelter to more than 2,800 high-risk individuals at 31 hotel and motel sites across LA County, providing meals, wellness checks, and services to help residents access benefits and prepare them for moving into housing. LAHSA is filling new Roomkey sites within 5-7 days and maintaining occupancy levels near 100%. Services are being provided on-site to help residents access General Relief, CalFresh, SSI and medical benefits, after LAHSA found that 40% of Roomkey residents were not receiving any public benefits.

Project Roomkey is also delivering legal services to residents and partnering with the DMV to prepare people with the documentation they need to move into housing. Housing Central Command has discovered that 50% of applications for permanent supportive housing are rejected the first time due to missing paperwork, and obstacle this program aims to remove.

The Street Wellness Surge, which is providing care and education to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Outreach teams have:

  • Distributed more than 10,000 masks to over 5,600 individuals;
  • Provided more than 5,000 meals per day (Monday-Friday) through a partnership with World Central Kitchen;
  • Tested more than 2,000 individuals on Skid Row and major encampments since Apr. 20;
  • Referred more than 1,000 individuals to Project Roomkey

“We are setting bold goals for a good reason: our priority focus right now is saving lives,” said Marston. “We are prioritizing people who will likely die if they contract Covid-19. It’s going to take a big investment of resources and alignment, but this crisis has seen many parts of our system come together and operate at unprecedented speed,” said Marston. “We have every reason to continue to hold ourselves to that standard.”


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