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Antelope Valley is shortchanged in federal homeless funds, lawmaker claims in call for audit

Antelope Valley is shortchanged in federal homeless funds, lawmaker claims in call for audit
State Sen. Scott Wilk, seen in 2015, is questioning whether the Antelope Valley is being shortchanged in the distribution of federal homeless funds. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Asserting that the Antelope Valley receives only $1 for every $10 in federal homeless funds sent to central Los Angeles, state Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) has called for an audit of the agency that distributes the money.

In a letter to the state Joint Legislative Audit Committee, Wilk asked for a review of how the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority doles out more than $100 million in federal funds for homeless programs.

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The letter, sent to the homeless authority Thursday, is scheduled to be considered by the 14-member committee June 28. An audit, if ordered, would be conducted by the California State Auditor and could take up to a year.

The homeless authority did not reply to a request for comment.

The letter requests an audit to determine whether the authority is distributing homelessness funds equitably, whether it has complied with all laws and regulations and whether its process for approving and denying applications for funds is transparent.

Wilk's office released a document it said it obtained from the homeless authority breaking down 2016 homeless grants by region. Funds contributed by Los Angeles County were fairly evenly distributed, but those passed through from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development were not.

The records show that Service Planning Area 1, which is primarily the Antelope Valley, received about $1.2 million — $397 per homeless person — while Service Planning Area 4 in central Los Angeles received $47 million, or $3,966 per homeless person. The 2016 homeless count recorded just over 3,000 people in the Antelope Valley, about 6.7% of the county total, but the area received only 1.1% of the federal funds, the records show.

"These inequities underscore a repetitive and troublesome pattern wherein the people of the Antelope Valley, despite paying equally in to L.A. County programs, do not receive their fair share of funds and services," the letter said.

"We have a long history of being a donor area for other parts of the county," said Wilk, a Lancaster native who was elected in November to the district that includes the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys.

He said he became aware of funding inadequacies for homeless services from constituents.

"I was stunned at the extent of homelessness in the Antelope Valley," Wilk said. "People were sharing with me they weren't getting a fair share of resources."

Twitter: @LATDoug

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