LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office, in an unprecedented collaboration with the County of Los Angeles, is launching a multi-pronged initiative aimed at empowering homeless individuals and individuals at risk of homelessness to end the cycle of life on the streets.
The City Attorney’s initiative, with the assistance of a County grant, will dramatically expand efforts to assist homeless individuals resolve minor citations in exchange for taking advantage of services designed to turn their lives around--including job training, alcohol and drug addiction programs, and housing. Community service will also be assigned as an obligation to resolve these citations.
“We need to take every step possible to give homeless people the chance to get housed and back on their feet,” said Feuer. “It is unconscionable that tens of thousands of people across our county sleep on the streets or in cars, which also can create an untenable situation for the communities in which they live. Our new response team will give homeless people an opportunity to start new lives.”
"I'm always happy when the county and the city can work together, especially on a program that offers homeless people a compassionate way to square their legal accounts and move forward,' said Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl who authored the motion to award the County grant to the City Attorney.
Feuer pointed out that in addition to providing access to badly needed housing and related services, his initiative is intended to curb the debt that citations can create that disproportionately affects many of our most vulnerable people. When a homeless person is in debt and has no way of paying, it hinders his ability to become self-sufficient. Furthermore, it can result in jail time because of inability to pay. At a Citation Clinic in April there was a homeless individual who had accumulated over $14,000 in fines and fees. He completed his community service hours at the Midnight Mission and had his citations dismissed in May.
The City Attorney will be hiring a full-time team to implement the following:
· HOMELESS CITATION CLINICS (Through which participants can have citations and related fines removed from their records in exchange for taking advantage of housing and other services)-- In April, City Attorney Feuer held the first homeless citation clinic in five years. One hundred people lined up outside before the doors even opened. Feuer is committed to holding at least six such clinics per year for the next three years, in locations with high concentrations of homeless people throughout Los Angeles County. Indeed, Feuer’s program effectively replaces the County’s Homeless Court program, offering homeless people an opportunity to remove their citations and obtain services in the communities in which they live. The new clinics will have the capacity to assist approximately 2,000 individuals a year. The first of these clinics will be held on August 26th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at theMidnight Mission on Skid Row, followed by one in October in Venice and a third in November in the Northeast San Fernando Valley.
· HOMELESS TRANSPORTATION TO CLINICS—In a new approach, Feuer’s program will include providing homeless people in the vicinity of upcoming clinics—but too far away to reach by foot—transportation to and from the clinics.
· SERVICE PROVIDER CITATION CLINICS—In addition to the larger scale clinics, the City Attorney team will conduct smaller and more mobile clinics at specific homeless shelters and other community-based providers throughout the county.