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Morning Brief: Unhelpful Homeless Resources, Secret Crosswalk Painters, And LGBTQ+ Kids Books

A homeless encampment under a freeway bridge has several tents and makeshift living quarters.
A homeless encampment under a freeway bridge in Joe Buscaino's City Council District 15.
(Ethan Ward
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Good morning, L.A. It’s April 1.

Given the billion-dollar budget of the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, the department that oversees services for unhoused Angelenos, you might assume their staff is robust.

But, as my colleague Ethan Ward reports, you’d be wrong. The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles is so understaffed that their very purpose, helping the unhoused, has become a difficult promise to keep. The reasons behind the shortage depend on who you ask. But topping the list are problems not foreign to other industries, like the limitations of only offering in-person positions and the issues that arise when the work hits a bottleneck and piles up, only further undercutting the system itself.

Some of HACLA’s clients are working to find housing using Section 8 vouchers, which augment monthly rent. But Carlos VanNatter, HACLA’s director of Section 8, told Ethan that the department, which has jobs to fill, isn’t equipped to let people telecommute — a big problem in a pandemic world.

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“Candidates have a lot of options right now,” VanNatter said. “We’ve had situations where they don’t show up for interviews, or they go through the process and get an offer and don’t accept.”

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VanNetter added that HACLA has been overwhelmed by an inundation of referrals from other organizations, including the county’s homelessness department. HACLA also works with a vast network of nonprofits, each of which struggle with their own internal problems. 

But these explanations don’t help people at the center of the issue. 

Otis Gossett, an unhoused man in downtown, told LAist in November of last year that he felt certain he’d only be waiting a few more weeks to move into a new apartment with his Section 8 voucher.

As of February, he was still waiting.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Cal State L.A. is getting ready to launch a bachelor’s degree program for incarcerated women, six years after doing the same for men. 
  • Cases of COVID-19 in L.A. have plateaued as the BA.2 sub-variant spreads. 
  • With their labor contract due to expire, some L.A. County employees took to the streets to demand better wages, benefits and more.
  • A secretive group is repainting crosswalks in L.A. to prevent pedestrian injuries and deaths. It’s a job the city should be taking on itself. 
  • State lawmakers passed a last-minute bill to extend pandemic eviction protection before it was set to expire today. 
  • An Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences insider says Will Smith’s publicist was asked to ask Smith to leave after assaulting Chris Rock, but that Smith declined.

Before You Go ... Authors Of Books About Trans Kids Aren't Letting Bans Stand In Their Way

A series of Pride parade marchers fly rainbow flags, with some flags showing other patterns. A man with pink hair and a pink mustache and beard, in a light purple shirt, is on the left. A woman in glasses with a green shirt with a purple heart on it is on the far right. And in the middle is a man with a green crop top with a butterfly on it, a green fanny pack, and bracelets, next to Jackson in a more civilian version of his superhero uniform, with a red shirt and jeans.
Jackson in the DC Pride comic earlier this year.
(Courtesy DC Comics)
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As lawmakers push forward with efforts to curb the rights of queer and trans youth, some authors who've written about gender expansive and trans identities are finding, to their surprise, that their books are showing up on banned lists. In response, they say that storytelling is crucial for kids and families to feel accepted, understood and loved.

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