Mayor Karen Bass participated in her first Metro Board meeting Jan 26 and agenda item 19 was of particular concern. It dealt with the organization’s possible future work in helping the homeless who ride the Metro busses and trains.
Bass declared a state of emergency for the homeless crisis here and launched the city’s “Inside Safe” program a month ago. At last week’s meeting, she encouraged Metro’s assistance, as she has heard complaints that once trains reach their end of line at night, riders are kicked off so the trains can be repaired, serviced and cleaned.
Some of these riders have nowhere to go and roam the streets all night until they can catch a Metro ride in the morning.
“Emergencies are not just nine-to-five, Mondays through Fridays,” she said. “Emergencies are 24-seven.”
The mayor noted that the Biden Administration has announced that it wants to reduce homelessness by 25%.
“I told them — just come into Los Angeles.”
Metro members provided Bass and the board a status update and suggestions on how Metro can support the unhoused at its train stations. One of thse suggestions was improving communications with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Agency (LAHSA).
On Jan. 23, Va Lecia Adams Kellum became the fourth leader of the countywide Los Angeles Homeless Services Agency (LAHSA) in the past year. Adams Kellum left her job as president and CEO of St. Joseph Center, a social service organization that offers outreach services and housing to homeless people.
She was a member of Bass’s transition team and was instrumental in placing 213 homeless individuals into housing in Venice, part of Bass’ Inside Safe program.
Board members agreed that there has currently been a gap in addressing the homeless crisis at Metro and that the crisis heightens the need to prioritize, combine and streamline efforts.
The directors suggested Metro could encourage more partnership feelings. For the city, county, LAHSA and Metro to be singing all from the same song sheet.
“It is time to reset,” agreed director Paul Krekorian. “It is in this agency’s best interest to address this issue.”
Supervisor Holly Mitchell, a member of the Metro board, noted that the PATH organization (People Assisting the Homeless) — which is designed to provide the support homeless individuals and families need in order to successfully transition from living on the street to thriving in homes of their own — cannot provide nighttime shelter to homeless bus and rail riders, because they do not have identification.
But service organizations like PATH are supposed to help homeless persons get ID in the first place.
“We need to encourage PATH to think creatively and out of the box,” she said. “We need to figure out how to put the cart behind the horse.”
The board agreed to receive and file a status report on the End of Line Policy evaluation. It is hoped that future policy improvements will start the partnerships which could become the model for LA County and hopefully for the nation.