I want to congratulate the Business Leaders Task Force on Homelessness for the “Home for Good Plan,” an effort by local business and community leaders to find solutions to the issue of homelessness in Los Angeles County. I generally support the recommendations outlined in the Plan, and I agree that a more direct, streamlined approach to housing the chronically homeless is needed.
We have already made great strides towards aligning with this approach in LA County. Last year, I called for a restructuring of our General Relief (GR) program to focus first on housing. The GR program provides cash assistance to over 89,000 County residents each month, assisting with food, housing and employment. While the cost of the program nears $200 million, experts estimate that the County spends almost four times this on other services to those on General Relief, 53,000 of whom are homeless. These additional costs are mostly related to repeated incarcerations in County Jail and recurring visits to County emergency rooms and clinics, pushing the price tag closer to $1 billion per year. A shift in focus to housing will not only help many of these individuals overcome serious challenges and transition to a better life, but will also save taxpayers money.
I look forward to working with the Task Force on this strategy, and joining with them to advocate in Washington DC for the changes in federal policy needed to advance our mission to end homelessness in Los Angeles County.