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County Sets Up Interdepartmental Council to Fight Homelessness

County supervisors hope the cross communication with the various departments will best deal with the growing number of homeless.

The Board of Supervisors established an interdepartmental council to coordinate Los Angeles County's efforts to end homelessness Tuesday.

The group is modeled on the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and includes a broad group of county departments and agencies, including the departments of mental health, health services, children and family services, the Sheriff's Department and the courts.

The goal is to “embed this in the county system,'' said Gil Krisiloff, the senior field deputy to Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who joined with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in recommending creation of the council.

Yaroslavsky, as the board's chair, will also chair the council, and Chief Executive Officer William Fujioka will serve as vice chair.

“Los Angeles County remains the homeless capital of the country,” Yaroslavsky said. “While the county has many departments that provide services to homeless individuals, homelessness per se is not the formal responsibility of any department, committee or cluster.

Yaroslavsky -- who has long been a champion of ending homelessness and led an effort dubbed “Project 50,'' to house 50 of the most chronically homeless individuals on Skid Row -- said he hoped that cross-communication between the various departments that deal with the problem of homelessness would foster a move toward best practices.

Those best practices include “housing first'' permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless, rapid re-housing for homeless families and special programs for homeless youth and veterans.

In 2011, there were 51,340 homeless individuals in Los Angeles County, according to a count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. Twenty of those homeless lived within Glendora.

Another count by the Los Angeles Continuum of Care, which excludes Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach, counts 45,422 homeless and find that about one-third have substance abuse problems, one-third are mentally ill and nearly one quarter have physical disabilities. Twenty percent are homeless families and 18 percent are veterans.

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