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LA Homelessness Agency Launches Plan To Treat Homelessness Like A Disaster

A tent on Skid Row, June 30, 2019. (James Bernal/LAist)
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Nearly 60,000 people sleeping on the streets of L.A. sure seems like a disaster to many Angelenos. Now, local leaders plan to treat it like one.

The L.A. Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) plans to start organizing homeless services through a Housing Central Command, modeled after the federal approach to housing people after natural disasters. It presented the plan in a report to the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Since December, LAHSA officials have worked with experts on emergency housing to draft a plan to more quickly house homeless people who qualify for permanent supportive housing in L.A.

Currently, people in LAHSA's system have to wait anaverage of 10 months between being matched to housing and signing a lease.

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The first step of the revamp plan is taking inventory of available units.

This has been challenging, LAHSA’s Interim Executive Director Heidi Marston told the Board of Supervisors, since LAHSA is governed and funded by so many different entities. (LAHSA is an independent body jointly created by the city and county of L.A. It manages over $400 million each year in city, county, state and federal funding to fight homelessness.)

“The intention of Housing Central Command is to bring that universal understanding so that we’re looking at how all of our resources interact with each other regardless of who funds them and who administers them,” Marston said.

LAHSA officials plan to test out the new strategy on housing applicants in Downtown and East L.A. this week. At this point, it’s not clear how many permanent supportive housing units are actually available, but agency officials say they should know more in 30 days.