Blumenfield successfully gets LAHSA to commit to date and to expand pilot effort to include Corbin Underpass as well as Winnetka
LOS ANGELES, CA- Today Councilmember Bob Blumenfield announced that the new Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) pilot program currently underway aiming to geographically target resources and housing opportunities will include an additional West Valley freeway underpass. Also, November 16 has been set as the date to move all people experiencing homelessness (PEH) at these two underpasses into newly available rapid re-housing.
“I am thrilled that LAHSA has expanded the program to include the Corbin underpass as it is inextricably linked to the Winnetka underpass. — LAHSA has identified 33 people who live at these two encampments and many of them move back and forth between them,” stated Blumenfield. “The goal is to house folks and then, pursuant to Judge Carter’s determination that it is unsafe to live under the freeways, make sure that these underpasses remain off-limits to future encampments.”
The details about what the posted signage will look like and how the City will insure that the area remains off limits is still being worked through with the City Attorney and others, but other cities that have settled cases in Judge Carter’s Court on this topic provide a possible roadmap. Blumenfield’s program will be one of the first, if not the first, to house everyone in an underpass/geographic area and then keep that area off-limits to camping.
LAHSA is continuing to conduct needs assessments for the people at these locations with a comprehensive and holistic analysis of what resources they need to be housed. This includes wrap around services for people and eliminating barriers that often get in the way of people obtaining resources (e.g. documentation requirements, identification, health care eligibility and treatment needs). Following the assessment, outreach teams and housing navigators have been connecting encampment residents to the best and most immediate housing pathway solution.
Over the weekend, residents were warned to stay inside due to dangerous air quality, leaving thousands of vulnerable people with no refuge
LOS ANGELES, CA- Today Councilmember Bob Blumenfield introduced legislation to develop comprehensive protocols for how and when to open ‘smoke relief’ centers as well as expand accessibility across Los Angeles. Combined with the COVID-19 pandemic and excessive heat, heavy toxic smoke from the Bobcat and El Dorado fires is the latest crisis to impact local residents, leaving unhoused people and other vulnerable Angelenos with no place to seek refuge.
“If public health officials are telling people to stay home because the air is too dangerous, we need to step up to help the over 36,000 homeless people on the streets of LA with nowhere to safely breathe,” said Blumenfield. “We can’t just open a handful of small sites and call it a day. A plan is desperately needed to include air quality emergencies, increase the number of open centers, and improve the outreach around the city.”
When temperatures become too extreme, ‘cooling centers’ are opened but a similar protocol does not exist for when air quality is dangerous. Even with ‘cooling centers,’ there are not enough and often they are too far away to be fully useful. For example, on September 6th, when temperatures surged in Woodland Hills to 121 degrees, there was only one city ‘cooling center’ open in the West Valley with space for only ten people. It was miles away from most CD3 encampments, leaving 700 homeless people in the district to suffer in the extreme elements with no relief. Additionally, tens of thousands of housed residents of all ages and health histories don't have, or can't afford to use air conditioning or air filtrations systems.
LOS ANGELES, CA- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dramatically impact the local economy, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously supported Councilmember Bob Blumenfield’s motion to temporarily suspend certain signage laws so local businesses can promote their services without fear of fines or penalties. Fourteen business owners were cited by the Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) over the past few months for having illegal signage, often due to simple signs hung on their property expressing that they are open and their operating hours.
“This is a common sense step to help empower local businesses in the wake of a devastating emergency,” said Blumenfield. “Neighborhood business owners continue to face mounting economic fears and signs should be the last thing they should be worried about.”
"Since the early days of the pandemic," said Councilmember Paul Krekorian, who seconded the motion, "I have worked with my Council colleagues to help ensure that businesses are not penalized for using innovative ways to attract customers. This motion is an important and necessary part of that effort."
This motion helps codify Mayor Garcetti’s recent executive action into law but it also goes further and was coordinated closely with LADBS and Marqueece Harris Dawson, Chair of the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee. It suspends the requirement for businesses to obtain a permit for ‘temporary’ signs that are tacked, pasted or otherwise temporarily affixed to windows and/or on the walls of buildings, barns, sheds or fences, as defined by Municipal Code Section 14.4.16.
Blumenfield stated, “Now more than ever it’s imperative to shop and support community restaurants and businesses. Many establishments are at a make or break moment and it’s critical that as a city, and as consumers, we help uplift these stores and keep the local economy as healthy as possible.”
The motion also asks for recommendations on which codes present life safety concerns and should continue to be enforced during the COVID-19 State of Emergency.
LOS ANGELES, CA- This week the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved $450,000 to help continue and grow an innovative drug treatment program created last year by Councilmember Blumenfield, Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center and Tarzana Treatment Center (TTC). In response to the growing number of ER cases involving homeless people struggling with drug addiction, Blumenfield developed the Homeless Housing and Recovery Project (HHRP) with leaders from Providence and TTC so instead of simply treating overdoses and discharging patients, further intervention and treatment are offered.
“Addiction recovery is hard enough for people with housing and means but it’s an unfathomably difficult path for unhoused residents,” said Blumenfield. “The HHRP offers a realistic opportunity to truly help our city’s most vulnerable, providing a substantive chance turn their lives around.”
The HHRP functions by deploying Patient Navigators on site at hospital emergency rooms to enroll recently admitted unhoused people with drug issues into the program. Services offered include being assigned a general practitioner, connection to TTC medical clinics where they continue to receive care after hospital discharge, and in some cases temporary housing through a shared housing model. Since the start of this program, it has also expanded to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills.
The program reaches unsheltered people in the hospital ER which has proven to be an opportune time to offer services. They are more receptive, perhaps because they have hit a rock bottom or because the medical setting is more conducive to acceptance of help than an outreach effort on the street. The partnership of the medical professionals and streamlined access to a substance abuse program seems to give unsheltered people with substance abuse or mental health disorders a better chance to turn their lives around.
In order to continue and expand this successful program, additional funding was needed before the end of August, as the leases for the housing units are set to expire in September. The total cost of the program is $950,000. Providence and TTC are providing $500,000 in funding and services, but these additional funds were needed. Among other services, this funding will help add an additional house to TTC’s treatment long-term capacity so they will have three homes with almost twenty beds available.
“We thank Council Member Blumenfield for his continuing support of this vital program that addresses two critical and often intertwined crises – homelessness and addiction,” said Dale Surowitz, chief executive, Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center. “Our navigators at both hospitals have been successful in linking these patients to temporary housing, addiction treatment and other resources.”
According to Providence and TCC, during the first 14 months of the program, 697 patients were screened for admission, of which:
363 enrolled in the program
168 have been connected to mental health services
40 started outpatient substance use disorder treatment
191 connected with emergency housing
72 are no longer homeless and are living on their own or with family
Blumenfield stated, “Not everyone is going to accept the help or stick with the program but we have already proven that this program is more successful than most traditional services. It’s our hope that other cities and hospitals pay attention to the success of this program because the lack of drug addiction and mental health services is far too prevalent in practically every corner of the country.”
Focused effort underway to rehouse all the people living under 101 freeway
LOS ANGELES, CA- Bringing new resources to the effort to shelter people living in the Winnetka underpass beneath the 101 freeway, Councilmember Bob Blumenfeld today announced a new pilot project to house unsheltered residents at that encampment, in partnership with. the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). During the pilot, LAHSA will identify service needs and housing/shelter resources for each of the estimated 24 people currently living at this location. This new infusion of outreach and services stems from the ongoing litigation and conversations with federal Judge David O. Carter. Finding it unsafe and unhealthy to live near freeways, Judge Carter has been facilitating an agreement between the City and County of Los Angeles to create new shelter beds for people living within 500 feet of freeways throughout the region.
“I’m encouraged to see LAHSA focus attention on what it will take to house the people living in the Winnetka underpass both to give them somewhere better to be and to clear the underpass for pedestrians,” said Blumenfield. “After many visits and conversations with homeless folks living in these areas, I know that some need substance abuse treatment and others just need a helping hand to get back to a safe home, so this pilot should help get each person the right mix of assistance to move on with their lives quickly.”
The Winnetka underpass is one of several freeway locations that LAHSA has prioritized for rapid rehousing efforts.
A partnership between the City and County of Los Angeles, this will be the first permanent site west of the 405 and will serve local homeless Angelenos
CANOGA PARK,CA- Today construction and renovations began for the new permanent Bridge Housing site in the West Valley. In partnership with County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, this property in Canoga Park will be the City’s first permanent Bridge Housing site west of the 405.
“The COVID-19 emergency has amplified our homelessness crisis in ways we will only fully grasp in the years to come but we know our Bridge Housing site will serve as a critical tool in getting people the help they need,” said Councilmember Blumenfield. “Thanks to Supervisor Sheila Kuehl for partnering in this effort to get more permanent services in the West Valley because as we continue to face an unprecedented humanitarian and quality-of-life crisis, we need all the resources we can get.”
LA City Council calls on Congress to boost SNAP, crucial Federal food program previously known as food stamps
WEST SAN FERNANDO VALLEY, CA – On May 13, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution authored by Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and seconded by Councilmember Monica Rodriguez to call upon Congress to make critical improvements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as food stamps, for struggling families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the several Federal aid programs rolled out to provide aid to businesses and families, Congress has taken no action to expand SNAP for those who are food insecure.
“In LA and across the Country, food insecurity is one of the largest issues impacting families during the pandemic,” Blumenfield said. “Given rising unemployment rates and food bank data, there could be as many as 60 million people who don’t know when or where their next meal is coming from. It’s time for Congress to boost SNAP benefits, to call on the USDA to expand SNAP-eligible delivery options, and to urge the Federal government to increase access to SNAP for particularly vulnerable groups.”
SNAP has proven to be one of the most effective Federal programs to mitigate hardships for low-income families. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), SNAP expenditures not only benefit food insecure families—these expenditures are also one of the most efficient methods to support an economy during a recession. With the passage of Blumenfield’s resolution, the City of Los Angeles specifically calls for Congress to boost the maximum benefit by 15%, double the minimum benefit to $30 a month, and allow EBT use on grocery delivery platforms benefitting local businesses. Every SNAP dollar spent in the local economy contributes to the wages grocery workers and food producers depend upon to maintain operations.
"Councilmember Blumenfield and the Los Angeles City Council continue to show strong leadership in the face of the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the heartbreaking increases in food insecurity,” said Abby J. Leibman, President and CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “With the passage of Councilmember Blumenfield’s resolution today, Los Angeles raises its powerful voice to insist on a robust response by our Federal government to ease the pain of hunger for the millions of Americans who were struggling before the pandemic, and the millions more who now face barriers to accessing the food they need to feed themselves and their families with dignity."
Blumenfield has been working on the local level to support food-insecure families and struggling Angelenos. Recently he allocated over $100,000 from his discretionary funds to start an emergency nonprofit grant program to help 20 local nonprofits such as the West Valley food pantry and West Valley YMCA, but expanded support to programs like SNAP is essential to help struggling families get by.
“At the City level, we are doing everything we possibly can to help food insecure Angelenos—but our efforts pale in comparison to what Congress can accomplish by boosting SNAP,” Blumenfield said.
Councilmember Blumenfield is committed to helping families in need during the pandemic and he recently published a donation solicitation letter to encourage folks to donate to the 20 local nonprofit grant recipients from his emergency program.
For Immediate Release-
April 10, 2020
Contact: Jake Flynn, 213.473.7003, cell- 310.663.3770
COUNCILMEMBER BLUMENFIELD ANNOUNCES FIRST FOUR $10,000 COVID-19 EMERGENCY GRANTS TO LOCAL NONPROFITS
WEST SAN FERNANDO VALLEY, CA – In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many local nonprofits are struggling to serve vulnerable communities in the West Valley. To support those in need, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield announced he will direct $100,000 from his office’s discretionary funds towards establishing emergency grants for local nonprofits so they can continue their vital services, such as food pantries, senior programs, and homelessness services. He will also share grant applications with other public and private sector potential donors to generate additional resources. This is above and beyond the tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of critical supplies and food he has been donating from his BobCAT (Community Action Team) emergency warehouses.
To accelerate the rollout of these funds, Blumenfield has selected the first four nonprofits to receive $10,000 nonprofit emergency grants. These nonprofits are:
- West Valley Food Pantry (Local Food Pantry based in Woodland Hills serving unprecedented number of hungry clients during COVID-19)
- West Valley YMCA (Local YMCA in Reseda opening showers to homeless individuals during pandemic, running clothing drive and blood drive)
- Guadalupe Center (Catholic Charities organization based in Canoga Park providing food, ESL, tutoring, thrift store and recreational classes)
- ONEgeneration (Senior Enrichment Center based in Reseda providing food and programming for seniors throughout the West Valley)
“This is a tough time for the West Valley,” said Blumenfield. “Many families cannot afford groceries and are going to their local food pantry for the first time. But nonprofits are hurting too and are already struggling to get services to their clients. Nonprofits in the West Valley need support now more than ever and that is why I am proud to have directed $40,000 to four outstanding organizations helping folks in need. I’ve worked very closely with these organizations for years and know that each one of them does critical work for our community.”
In addition to the four organizations that each received $10,000, Blumenfeld is offering grant opportunities up to $10,000 to more nonprofits addressing the needs of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonprofit leaders interested in learning more and applying for these grants, please fill out this simple form. Also, Blumenfield will share these grant applications with other public and private sector donors in an effort to generate additional resources for these important non-profits.
“I encourage additional nonprofits in need to reach out so we can continue ‘helping the helpers’ of the West Valley.”
To continue supporting nonprofits, Blumenfield also created a survey that prospective donors and volunteers may fill out to get connected with local West Valley nonprofits. To complete a survey and learn where help is needed, please go here. To have your organization added to the list of organizations seeking volunteers or specific supplies, write to James.Conlon@lacity.org.
For more information about the organizations receiving the first round of grants and where the money will go, please check out this video.
Workers who are ill should stay home and not fear lost wages
LOS ANGELES, CA – Concerned that workers may not be aware of their rights, and local employers may not be aware of City requirements for paid sick leave, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield today reminded the community that the City Council passed a law to protect workers who need time off due to illness.
“From washing your hands thoroughly to covering your mouth when coughing, there are many things we can do to help protect ourselves during a pandemic but the reality is that people are going to get sick and they shouldn’t fear losing their jobs,” said Blumenfield. “I am proud to have helped lead the effort to secure paid sick leave and it is critical for the wellbeing of our city that people use it when needed so we can slow the escalation of transmission.”