Nithya Raman was sworn in to her new job as a member of L.A. City Council today–and immediately got to work, announcing the first two motions she will be will be bringing before the body. The pair of motions both address issues related to housing and homelessness, concerns that were key to the progressive’s campaign.
“My goal as your council member is to approach problems from a systems perspective,” Raman stated in remarks following the swearing in. “To reimagine and strengthen systems of care. To make them more efficient and make them work for everyone, especially our most vulnerable. While our city’s fiscal situation may be dire, we can still do far more–for all Angelenos.”
To that end, both of the motions focus on delivering care and services to vulnerable individuals. The first asks the City Council and the City Administrative Officer to “identify suitable sites and funding options” to establish a drop-in service center for unhoused individuals somewhere within her council district, which includes a broad swath of the city, including areas of Sherman Oaks, Koreatown, Silver Lake, Hollywood, and Hancock Park.
“All but a handful of neighborhoods in Los Angeles have no walk-in facilities where an unhoused person can use a restroom, take a shower, store their belongings, or speak to a social workers who can help them secure shelter or medical treatment,” Raman writes in the motion.
Where these centers exist, they have largely been the work of community and charity groups, like SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition, which Raman was involved with prior to her council run. The city has only established three—located in South L.A., San Pedro, and North Hollywood—though homelessness has grown in nearly every corner of the city.
“This critical link in the City’s homelessness response system much be filled,” the motion, seconded by Councilmember Paul Krekorian, reads. “As the pipeline into homelessness grows larger, the services available to navigate Angelenos back into housing must expand in response.”
The second motion aims to adjust the focus of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to be one focused on outreach and consistency, rather than primarily reacting to complaints, and often appearing linked to police activity, which may cause distrust amongst those the services are intended to reach.
“Many people living on L.A.’s streets lack the support networks and stable relationships so vital to human thriving, including regular contact with caseworkers in a non-punitive context,” the motion reads. “Proactive outreach has been shown to expedite the path to housing and services, expand data collection, maintain sanitation, and improve relationships between unhoused people and their housed neighbors or local businesses.”
This motion to reimagine LAHSA, seconded by Nury Martinez, asks for the agency and the Homeless Initiative division of the County CEO’s office to deliver a report to the council within 60 days, detailing how outreach is currently being conducted, what resources are being used.