USICH Director Meets With State and Local Leaders in Los Angeles

February 8, 2023
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This week, USICH Director Jeff Olivet traveled to Los Angeles—where the city and county have declared homelessness a state of emergency. While there, he and USICH Senior Regional Advisor Helene Schneider, a former mayor of Santa Barbara, met with local and state leaders as well as visited shelters and encampments to better understand the area’s needs for addressing this life-and-death crisis.

USICH held meetings with Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson, L.A. County Supervisor Lindsay Horvath, L.A. County Homeless Initiative Director Cheri Todoroff, California Deputy Secretary Dhakshike Wickrema, and federal officials from the departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs. USICH also participated in roundtables with homeless service providers and faith leaders across the region. The leaders discussed the state and local challenges and solutions to homelessness and how the federal government can help.

“The Biden-Harris administration set a goal to reduce homelessness in the U.S. 25% by 2025. We cannot achieve this without significant progress in Los Angeles, but Mayor Bass and her team are bringing the urgency and creativity necessary to get it done,” said USICH Director Olivet. “I believe that it is possible to solve homelessness in Los Angeles. And if we can do it there, we can do it anywhere.”

Along with Mayor Bass, USICH visited several local shelters and service providers in the Skid Row area as well as the Hilda Solis Care First Village—where shipping containers are being used to build short-term housing—and an encampment where people part of the mayor’s Inside Safe Initiative were preparing to move to a motel as they await permanent housing.

USICH’s visit comes days after Los Angeles received $60 million from a first-of-its-kind federal package for unsheltered homelessness. Schneider helped present the award to Los Angeles last week, which is the first federal funding specifically for unsheltered homelessness and the first federal funding that coordinates grants and housing vouchers.

The unsheltered funding from HUD is one of many ways the Biden administration has made ending homelessness a top priority. USICH released All In: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in December, which set a national goal to reduce homelessness 25% by 2025 and encourages state and local governments to set their own ambitious goals for 2025. All In goes further than any previous federal effort to prevent homelessness and to address systemic racism that makes people of color—especially Black people—more likely to experience homelessness. All In is a roadmap for making the most of resources like the American Rescue Plan, which is one of the largest-ever investments in ending homelessness. In just over a year, more than 100 communities—including Los Angeles—worked with the Biden-Harris administration to help move more than 140,000 people off the streets , out of shelters, and into permanent homes through initiatives like House America . And in the coming months, USICH and the White House will announce the details of a new initiative to help select cities and states reduce unsheltered homelessness. 

“I'm encouraged to see this renewed alignment and collaboration between city, county, community, and state leaders, doing what is necessary to both provide housing and services to those in crisis as well as work to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place,” said USICH Advisor Schneider. “USICH and its 19 federal agencies are all in as Los Angeles' federal partner in this important work.”

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