Mark Ridley-Thomas – LA County

In this video, we chat with Mark Ridley-Thomas, chairman of the LA County Board of Supervisors.  He is the most powerful elected official in a county that is larger than many countries.  And not only that, he knows his stuff.

One important thing that they did was put homelessness among their top 4 priorities, and included it prominently on their county website.  This has created a psychological effect among county staff on this issue, focusing their efforts.

LA County certainly has its problems in addressing homelessness, but in February 2016, they adopted 47 strategies called the Homeless Initiative that is operated out of LA Counties Chief Executive Office.  The County Board then dedicated $100 million to begin its implementation.  Much effort had been made over the years, but homelessness has grown.  “We had to go big or stay at home.”

They did a lot of polling prior to the March vote on County Measure H for a quarter cent sales tax for homeless services.   Homelessness came out as the top issue in 8 out of 10 polls.  It was higher than public safety, transportation, health, education, and the environment.  “Elected officials are smart enough that when the people speak, they need to get busy.”

The United Way and the Chamber of Commerce joined forces and started Home For Good.  They started a 5/10k walk/run on an annual basis.  Consciousness of the issue began to increase.