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California

Los Angeles housing official to head homeless services agency

Skid row homeless
A homeless man pushes his belongings in a shopping cart on skid row, which has one of the largest populations of homeless people in the United States.
(ROBYN BECK / AFP/Getty Images)

A city housing official was selected Friday to head the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the city-county agency that manages $70 million a year in federal, state and local funding for shelters, housing and services for the very indigent.

Peter Lynn, director of the Section 8 rental assistance program for the city’s Housing Authority, replaces Executive Director Mike Arnold, who retired after nine years in the job. Lynn’s salary was set at $190,000.

Lynn worked as a New York City housing official before joining the local Housing Authority in 2007. Under Lynn, the housing authority’s rental assistance programs for the homeless doubled to more than 14,000 units.

Arnold was credited with stabilizing the homeless agency’s finances. But the county defied national trends by reporting a 15% jump in the number of homeless people from 2011 to 2013. The total, 54,000, was second only to New York City’s -- although federal officials later knocked the number down to 36,000 because of questions about a survey used in the count.

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Controversy flared earlier this year when the agency turned down the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ offer to fund a 2014 homeless count.

“Peter’s been both a colleague and a partner,” Arnold said Friday. “The big challenge we have in Los Angeles is we don’t have affordable housing and woefully inadequate permanent supportive housing. I congratulate Peter on taking on one of the hardest jobs in the country.”

Lynn graduated from Vassar College and has an MBA from New York University, officials said. His appointment, which takes effect Dec. 1, was approved at a meeting Friday by the homeless agency’s 10-member commission, which is split evenly between city and county appointees.

Follow @geholland for news on homelessness and poverty.

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