SoCal coalition pushing for regional approach to tackle homelessness

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A coalition of civic leaders is pushing for a new approach to ending homelessness in Southern California, one that would create a single agency to map out and administer a plan for the entire region.

"Everybody is trying to do it themselves," said Raphe Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State LA. "The city, the county, LAHSA, the city council, the non-profit organizations, the media - everybody's got an idea but there's no place to bring those ideas so we can create a common plan."

Sonenshein helped create the "We're Not Giving Up: A Plan for Homelessness Governance in Los Angeles'' report for the Committee for Greater L.A.

The group released the 53-page report Wednesday, calling for L.A County and city elected officials to team up with local business leaders, faith-based organizations and other civic groups to help create a single entity that would create a unified plan, not just for Los Angeles and Los Angeles County, but for the 88 individual cities within the county as well.

"There isn't one coordinated and integrated plan on how to resolve homelessness for the long term," said Miguel Santana, president and CEO of the Weingart Foundation and member of The Committee for Greater L.A. "The status quo isn't working. The fragmented approach that we currently have isn't going to get us any closer to ending this crisis."

The report is pushing for an independent agency led by a CEO, governed by a board of mostly elected officials, and overseen by community stakeholders.

The agency would be set up as a non-profit, funded by philanthropic groups. In that regard, it would have no real authority, no teeth so to speak. But backers say public shaming would be enough to get elected officials and governmental bodies to stick to the group's homelessness plan.

"You could say the city or the county are not pulling their weight," Sonenshein told Eyewitness News. "You agreed to this plan and now you're holding back. Why are you holding back? We can even hold the federal and state government accountable."

Latest statistics show the L.A. County homeless count at 66,436. The city of L.A.'s homeless count is 41,290.

Backers of the new agency say they are ready to act right now, and warn that L.A. may miss the best opportunity to fix the problem, with billions of dollars now set to come in from the state and federal governments.

"I'm terrified of what it looks like tomorrow and in the future if we don't roll up our sleeves together and get something done," said Santana.
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