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Homelessness is Day 1 focus for new L.A. council members Raman, Ridley-Thomas

New Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nithya Raman, shown in January, wants the city to review its homeless outreach services.
New Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nithya Raman, shown in January, was sworn in Tuesday and filed a motion asking the city to review its homeless outreach services.
(Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles’ newest City Council members, Nithya Raman and Mark Ridley-Thomas, put forward proposals aimed at addressing homelessness at their first council meeting Tuesday, signaling the crisis will be a priority for both politicians.

Raman, who represents a district stretching from Silver Lake to Sherman Oaks, introduced a motion that asks the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and the city to report back on homeless outreach efforts, specifically “proactive outreach.”

“Proactive outreach has been shown to expedite the path to housing and services, expand data collection, maintain sanitation, and improve relationships between unhoused people and their housed neighbors or local businesses,” Raman’s motion says. “Most importantly, regular contact from caseworkers without the presence of armed law enforcement helps build meaningful relationships of trust, which are essential to the work of helping someone from a tent into a home for good.”

As the new L.A.. school board president, Kelly Gonez marks a generational shift, while bringing a keen interest in policy issues and the experience of a current parent of young children.

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Raman, who bested incumbent David Ryu in last month’s election, also introduced a motion that asks the city to identify funding and possible sites for a homeless services center in her district. Such centers provide restrooms, showers and storage centers, according to Raman’s motion.

Raman and Ridley-Thomas took the oath of office Tuesday during a virtual City Council meeting.

Addressing her colleagues, Raman said that “economic forces” are pushing out families and “in particular, working families, so many Black and brown families.”

Ridley-Thomas, who represents a Koreatown-to-Crenshaw district, called homelessness the “moral crisis of our time” during his remarks and said that Angelenos cannot continue to “perish in these streets.”

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He introduced a resolution for the city to support Assembly Bill 71, which proposes $2.4 billion for homelessness and housing efforts across California.

He also introduced a motion that asks for the city to report back on creating a “Right to Housing” framework within city law. Ridley-Thomas is seeking information on a legal framework for the plan and available funding.

“Article 25 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right to housing as part of the broader right to an adequate standard of living,” Ridley-Thomas’ motion says. “If housing is to be acknowledged as a human right, it is paramount that all public jurisdictions take progressive steps to adopt legislative, administrative, judicial and budgetary measures to advance the Right to Housing for all.”

Ridley-Thomas, a former L.A. County supervisor who has also served in the state Senate and Assembly, is permitted to serve only a single four-year term because he previously served three terms on the council decades ago.

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He noted in his remarks that the last time he was on the City Council, he had a “little more hair and a lot less girth.”

The council also voted unanimously to reelect City Council President Nury Martinez to lead the council for another legislative term.


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