“I remain singularly focused on expanding housing resources and specialized services for our unhoused residents. Today, the Los Angeles City Council voted on an ordinance and received the first installment of a robust, Citywide Street Engagement Strategy - the first of its kind in Los Angeles. The strategy would ensure standardized assessment of encampments, an adequate period of dedicated street engagement at all sites where unsheltered people reside, and a transparent and accountable process by which street engagement teams work collaboratively to help unsheltered individuals transition indoors to more appropriate and dignified housing options with services attached.
The following key lessons learned and best practices shared by street outreach teams and council offices will be incorporated into the proposed street engagement strategy:
- Allow for ample time for comprehensive engagement.
- Understand the population at the site and their needs (number of men, women, children, people with disabilities, pets, transition age youth, number of people living in cars).
- Document outreach consistently to assess needs and interests in housing and/or services.
- Understand the laws/regulations in the area (streets, sidewalks, parks, private property, and other public land).
- Identify resources that can be offered, housing, storage, trash disposal, transportation, hygiene trailers, safe need drops, COVID testing and vaccinations.
- Understand the community's (members of the encampment) informal leadership to facilitate buy-in on housing options.
- Identify members of the community that want to stay together (i.e. shared housing, 2-4 bedroom apartments).
- Start identifying the housing options available before the engagement begins.
- Once a site is cleared, the outreach teams should conduct regular checks and outreach to anyone who has settled in the previously cleared site.
- Ensure that an after-action report is written that provides data on overall housing placements, service offered, other accomplishments, effective best practices used, and lessons learned.
In order to effectively scale up these street engagement and housing efforts to reduce homelessness, we must continue to maintain deep collaborations with our nonprofits, our City and County departments, and community residents. Now that the City Administrative Officer has released the Street Engagement Strategy, we invite feedback from community stakeholders in advance of the discussion scheduled for the August 12th Homelessness and Poverty Committee meeting.”
Mark Ridley-Thomas serves as Los Angeles’ City Council Chair of Homelessness and Poverty Committee and served as Co-Chair of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force.