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With 86 percent of homeless residents unsheltered, LA County declares crisis

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The declaration will help the county get emergency homelessness funding from the state

The LA County Board of Supervisors approved the shelter crisis declaration Tuesday.
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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declared a shelter crisis Tuesday to address homelessness in unincorporated areas of the county, where more than 5,000 residents lack permanent housing, according to a 2018 count.

Of that total, 86 percent lack even temporary shelter. In all parts of LA County, nearly 53,000 people are homeless on a given night, and more than 39,000 are without shelter.

The declaration will allow the county to receive money through an emergency aid program established earlier this year by the state Legislature.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which provides outreach and funds services for homeless residents in LA County, is expected to receive more than $80 million through the program.

Among other things, that money can be used to build and operate temporary shelters, provide residents with housing vouchers, or establish public restrooms in areas with high concentrations of homeless residents.

Earlier this year, the city of Los Angeles declared its own shelter crisis, and has already received $85 million in state funding. Of that total, more than half will go toward shelters constructed under Mayor Eric Garcetti’s A Bridge Home program.

In September, the first of the 24-hour shelters opened alongside the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, and at least three more are expected to open by winter 2019.

According to Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who authored the motion calling for the shelter crisis declaration, state funding obtained by LAHSA could also be used for bridge housing projects where residents can stay for a few months at a time while on-site case workers help to find them permanent housing.

In a statement Tuesday, Kuehl said that the money could also be used for “strengthening” the county’s coordinated entry system, a database used by county workers and service providers to assess the needs of homeless residents and to connect residents with housing.

The state funding will supplement the $355 million in annual proceeds the county now takes in through Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax hike that LA voters approved in 2017.

Money raised through the measure pays for an extensive list of strategies to combat homelessness, from hiring support to rental subsidies. The state funding is specifically earmarked for programs that provide “immediate emergency assistance.”