We have a history of sitting, waiting and watching thinking someone is going to say…Oh yea, don’t forget about African Americans. During public comments related to the County’s Homelessness Initiative at the AT&T Theater in Downtown LA about twelve Black people among three hundred or so service providers and citizens convened to witness $100 million in public funding prepare for distribution to fund a“Family of System Partners.”  Absent from six areas of key focus was serving the chronically ill. Many of the County’s chronically ill are African American and located downtown Los Angeles where the public hearing took place.  Ironically, before entering the building next to Bank of America laid three African Americans homeless citizens rolled up in blankets. Such blatant oversight and disrespect is what weakens and further separates us as a community.  From personal experience if system administrators are not causing a rift between Blacks and Hispanics, they’re pitting Black people against Black people forcing us to compete for the reaming public funding crumbs.  

During the first round of public comments the project Director responded to questions yet completely dismissed articulately read questions from General Jeff and a Black woman who also represented downtown homeless.  As the second round of public comments began the same Black woman stood to speak and the Director commented “let’s hear from others that haven’t spoken”  The event by design was intend to present information on six key areas followed by public comment recommendations. Less than twelve Black people among over three hundred in the room and we’re not important enough to be heard more than once.

Pay attention to how we (the public) are being accommodated

First and foremost, these recommendation were discussed and developed among majority of white folk, perhaps they represent the Family of Systems?  The Director categorized the 47 recommendations into six key areas.  I attended the last of two meetings after learning they were taking place during an Empowerment Congress Meeting and recall two Black women pleading not to overlook African American families and homeless in Service Area Six. One gentlemen suggested, we can’t do this work without public involvement.

This is copy from the email notice sent 8 days before yesterday’s hearing:  Thank you for registering for the Homeless Initiative Community Meeting on January 13, 2016 at 1:30pm. Due to a high level of interest, we have reached capacity for the Community Meetingand have a waitlist.  If you are unable to attend, please advise us via a reply to this by January 11 at noon, so that we can accommodate those on the waitlist.

SO MUCH FOR NOT BEING ABLE TO DO THIS WORK WITHOUT PUBLIC COMMENT! It was already done and certain folk was clearly extended invite before notice went out.

This is the same biased process that will play out with the health agency as system administrators are currently deciding how to allocate $7 Billion annually behind closed doors. If we do not come together and learn how to engage this system…guess what?

Breakdown Priority strategy A-1.  Recommendation:  Homeless Prevention Program for Families.

Direct the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and the Department of Public Social Services to convene a workgroup consisting of other relevant County departments and key community stakeholders  (Hopefully those two Black women have not been discouraged and get an invite to participate?) to develop an integrated, comprehensive homeless prevention program for families which draws on the Homeless Family Solutions System (HFSS) model and builds upon current available County homeless prevention funding sources to address rental/housing subsidies, case management and employment services, and legal services.

LAHSA should develop, in collaboration with County agencies and family system partners(please define this term and who are the family system partners?) a comprehensive strategy toeffectively identify, assess, and prevent families from becoming homeless, (How will we be ensured ensured African American families are appropriately identified to benefit?) and to divert families in a housing crisis from homelessness. The strategy should consist of a multi-faceted approach to maximize and leverage existing funding and resources, evaluate and potentially modify policies that govern existing prevention resources (under who’s authority?) to allow greater flexibility, prioritize resources for the most vulnerable populations (What data is being used to classify the most vulnerable populations?), and create an outreach and engagement strategy to identify access points for families at risk of homelessness. The major areas critical to developing a homeless prevention system in Los Angeles County involve identifying additional and targeting current resources from multiple systems to focus on homeless prevention.

There’s a category in which Chronically Ill will benefit. However don’t be misled into assuming it will serve downtown homeless. Grouped in the category are Disabled Vets. The Family of Systems I’m sure are looking out after their own.

Questions for consideration:  How will the County ensure the equitable distribution of Homeless dollars sever the County’s most vulnerable population?  Of the $100 million – What percentage will be allocated to African American lead providers? suggesting how many African Americans in homeless crisis will be served using public funding?

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