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Leaders Hope to End Homelessness

Times Staff Writer

A group of the Los Angeles area’s top elected leaders, including Mayor James K. Hahn and Sheriff Lee Baca, on Thursday announced the creation of a new panel whose lofty goal will be to end homelessness in the next decade.

The new group, called Bring LA Home, will include 50 representatives from government, business, religious organizations, social services, law enforcement, philanthropy, entertainment and homeless individuals. They will meet over the next year to draft a plan on such issues as affordable housing, mental health care and treatment for substance abuse.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. June 14, 2003 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday June 14, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Photo credit -- In Friday’s California section, a photograph of boxes and tents used by the homeless along skid row in downtown Los Angeles was incorrectly credited to Times photographer Bob Chamberlin. It was taken by Times photographer Ken Hively.

“We’re not here to say how we can manage the problem better or make it less of a problem but to come up with a plan to end homelessness,” Hahn said during a news conference at the Los Angeles Men’s Project, or LAMP, on downtown’s skid row. “We’re going to focus on how we can move people off the street and into places they can call their own.”

The coordinators will be the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, formed in 1993 by the city and county, and the Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness, an advocacy group. Experts from the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit social research group, and the Institute for the Study of Poverty and Homelessness at downtown L.A.'s Weingart Center will provide assistance.

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The new panel will hold public hearings and establish a Web site to disburse information and gather input from the community, said the Homeless Service Authority’s executive director, Mitchell Netburn.

The panel also will include two county supervisors, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and Zev Yaroslavsky; L.A. City Council members Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti; Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom; Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard; and Long Beach Mayor Beverly O’Neill.

Studies from a decade ago suggest that as many as 84,000 people are homeless on any given night in Los Angeles County, although there is a new push to update those numbers.

Hahn said as many as 40,000 people -- many of them families -- may be homeless in his city and Mayor Bloom said Santa Monica -- with a population of about 84,000 -- provided services last year to more than 2,500.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel said: “I often want to take community leaders from the San Fernando Valley, who only see homelessness in small pockets, and drive them through skid row and say, ‘This is homelessness.’ Just because you don’t see it in your community doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

Elected officials and advocates are under pressure to draft a plan in line with President Bush’s stated goal to end chronic homelessness in 10 years. Efforts that show progress on the streets are more likely to receive federal funds, said Patricia Carlile, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, who spoke at the news conference. She urged county officials to “think out of the box” and “take some risks.”

Baca said the county is soliciting help from HUD and Caltrans to find parcels of government land on which emergency shelters and transitional housing might be placed. He also said many communities around the county will have to accept more services for the homeless in their midst.

“There are a lot of myths about homeless people that are not true,” said Baca, a longtime advocate of such services. “Some people will ask, ‘Will my life be threatened if there’s a homeless shelter in the neighborhood?’ ”

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Baca said public safety is a priority for him and Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton.


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