According to the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, 40 percent of people experiencing homelessness across Los Angeles County are Black, while Black people make up only 9 percent of the county’s total population.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Commission has recognized the need to dedicate focused resources and attention to better understand and address this disproportionality. The recently appointed Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness will lead this effort. The committee will meet at LAHSA, 2-4 p.m., on the third Monday of each month, from April to September 2018. The first meeting was held on April 16, 1-5 p.m.
LAHSA Commissioner Jacqueline Waggoner is the committee chair and Commissioner Kelli Bernard is vice chair. Jacqueline Waggoner is vice president and Southern California market leader for Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., where she oversees Enterprise’s affordable housing, community development, investment, and strategic programs from the state’s Central Coast to San Diego. Kelli Bernard is chief executive for the Los Angeles Metro region of AECOM and has over 20 years of experience in economic development, land use planning, housing, redevelopment, and public affairs. Committee membership includes service providers, community advocates, affordable housing developers, city and county agencies, people with lived experience, faith leaders, and related subject experts.
“We’re working to ensure that systems and practices do not perpetuate the hardships faced by Black people experiencing homelessness, who were disproportionately represented in previous homeless counts,” said Waggoner, committee chair. “The committee will examine the barriers Black people face when trying to exit homelessness by accessing services and housing.”
“Our committee will not only provide recommendations for increasing equity within the homeless service delivery system, but also provide a baseline and clear metrics for evaluating our progress,” said Bernard, committee co-chair. “The ongoing work, findings, and recommendations will be shared publicly and serve as a foundation to drive improvements.”
The Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness builds upon LAHSA’s previous successes addressing issues of inequity. From December 2016 to July 2017, LAHSA convened an Ad Hoc Committee on Women and Homelessness, which resulted in a public report and recommendations that have made impacts in multiple arenas, such as the dedication of funding for bridge housing for women, the development of a Los Angeles Continuum of Care-wide gender non-discrimination policy, and the establishment of a working group to comprehensively address provider training needs and ensure that trainings address the needs of women.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is a joint powers authority of the city and county of Los Angeles, created in 1993 to address the problems of homelessness in Los Angeles County. LAHSA is the lead agency in the HUD-funded Los Angeles Continuum of Care, and coordinates and manages more than $257 million annually in federal, state, county, and city funds for programs providing shelter, housing, and services to homeless persons. For more information visit www.lahsa.org.