Well, our faithful correspondent hasn’t had time to attend a BID meeting in a while, but he made it to the SVBID Board Meeting on Tuesday, November 10, over at the Hollywood YMCA (right across the street from the famed Selma Park). And what a witches brew of craziness he witnessed over there! They had brand-new Eric Garcetti aide Alisa Orduna there to talk to them about the mayor’s declaration of a state of emergency about homelessness. And can she ever talk. Does she make sense? Some of the time.1 But, as Sigmund Freud taught the world, even in incomprehensible free-associationalism, truth can be found by those who take the time to look. And it does take time. We were planning to cover Alisa’s entire 40-ish minute thing in one post, but after spending two days transcribing just the first 12 minutes, we found that our sanity requires us to lay it on you in increments. You can watch here and, as always, there’s a transcription of the whole thing after the break for context (for some reason these links to YouTube into the middle of videos don’t seem to work well in Firefox. If you get an error, try Chrome).
Thus spake Alisa Orduna: So with all of that said, on September 22nd, Mayor Garcetti along with City Council made an announcement declaring an emergency. And there was a commitment of a hundred million dollars in resources to finally address homelessness. And, looking at it since that time, what does that really mean?
And later she said: So the hundred million was an announcement, and that was just a commitment, so that was just kinda throwing a benchmark out there and saying how are we gonna rise to the occasion?
And then Fabio Conti proclaimed: Did anybody think, oh a hundred million! That’s [unintelligible]. There’s no hundred million.
And she replied: It’s kind of [unintelligible] is standing by that commitment, so everyone is looking for it.
No one had the hundred million, but don’t worry, it shows we take it seriously and also don’t worry, we’re all out looking for the money! So we guess this was known, kind of. We guess there’s not really a revelation here. The New York Times quoted Herb Wesson at the time of the declaration as saying “The $100 million figure was chosen in part for its symbolism, said Herb J. Wesson Jr., the City Council president, to show county, state and federal officials that the city was willing to make a significant contribution to an urgent problem.” Now we find out from Alisa that actually it was chosen not just in part for its symbolism, but it was entirely symbolic. We wondering if she’s talking out of school, being new and maybe not entirely broken to the plow. Time will tell, we suppose. Read on for the rest of the news. And iPads! When will the city learn that iPads are not only going to solve problems, they’re likely to lead to FBI raids on public buildings and speculation about indictments?
Probably never, we’re guessing. And in this case, not only is $1,000,000 of the imaginary $100,000,000 going to iPads, the BID Patrol is going to get iPads too! Or maybe Alisa Orduna is just making it up, an equally likely scenario. Here’s what she said:
Our recommendation that a million go to technology, so we have many outreach workers, including the BID workers, and as they find people, right now we’re still doing paper-and-pencil intake and we wanna be able to link the LAHSA database with iPads or iPhones in a secure system and streamlined. So let me, looking at feasibility, how to upgrade the current database as well as what technology will work best.
So 1% of the non-existent hundred million is going to buy iPads, and the BID Patrol is going to get some of them iPads because just look at the outreach they do! Here’s a news flash, Alisa. The BID Patrol doesn’t do outreach, no matter how many times the big kahunoceros hisself mumbles the word “rapport” into his shoulder mike. What they do is arrest homeless people. Hundreds upon hundreds of them. You want to get them iPads for that, go ahead, we suppose, but don’t, please, especially cause you’re the new kid on the block, call them outreach workers, ok?
And finally (for today, there’s ever so much more of this), Alisa wants to explain to her audience of real-estate zillionaires what’s in it for them:
Otherwise the mayor is really committed to finding new sources, and that’s where I think that the private sector and our BIDs and our, uh, business community can weigh in the most, and particularly around development, how do we benefit from this [unintelligible] without stymieing new growth? How do we provide the right balance of incentives for developers, we’re always told our planning process is horrible, it’s all [unintelligible] quite clear on the various permitting, is there a way to streamline that with a benefit of a linkage fee or something to dedicate to an affordable housing trust fund that would also build affordable housing [unintelligible].
You see, LA has a homeless emergency, and the solution is to relax the building permit process! Our guess around here is that city hall sees that as the solution to every problem. Trash doesn’t get picked up in South LA? Make building permits easier to get! The violent crime rate is skyrocketing? Make building permits easier to get!! The LAPD won’t stop shooting poor black people? BUILDING PERMITS!!!! OK, really. These are the people in charge at 200 Spring Street? How are you solving your homeless problem in Los Angeles, Mr. Garcetti? Why, I’m glad you asked. We’re making it easier to get freaking building permits!!
Watch the whole thing yourself if you dare, read it below if you can keep your freaking eyes focused, and we’ll hit you up with another installment soonest, featuring Alisa Orduna explaining how to end homelessness by getting people to move back in with their parents!2
Kerry Morrison: So I, um, as you know, a few months ago, we had, um, a conversation about the, uh, [unintelligible] and homelessness in Hollywood, the encampments, concerns expressed by tenants and residents who [unintelligible] visited us here in this room, concerned about, um, [unintelligible] blocking the streets of Hollywood at night, and, uh, you know, that’s a concern, you’re trying to build a live/work neighborhood of the future, and, um, at your request, and this is, I think, we had the conversation before the city declared the state of emergency, so, uh, some of the feelings and the comments, the multiple calls and complaints that we’ve been getting at the BID office were in a sense corroborated by ultimately, finally, by our city leadership saying that this is a, uh, bordering on a crisis in the city and, um, so what we’re experiencing in Hollywood we’re experiencing throughout, and including Pacific Palisades where the fire was started by a homeless encampment. So we reached out to the mayor’s office, um, because this is a, uh, important neighborhood for just, job growth and, and, uh, vitality in the city and Greg Spiegel who is the homeless, um, deputy, um, he and I had talked about it, I know him pretty well, and he had a family emergency and had to go back to London, I believe. So Alisa, actually, is a great hire. He hired her fairly recently, um, I am on the Home for Good business leaders task force of the United Way and Alisa worked for United Way for at least a couple years, I’ll let you tell your story, just extremely knowledgeable, and, um, she’s in a position to have a conversation with us from, from a city hall and also to hear some of your issues, questions, [unintelligible], that you want to take back to the mayor’s office. So Alisa, thank you for being here.
Alisa Orduna: [unintelligible]… as Kerry said, I really am here to listen to what’s happening here on the ground in Hollywood and give an overview about what the declaration of emergency, how we’re interpreting that, what are then follow-up actions to that to kind of, big picture, and then but it’s important to know what’s going on here to understand how we have to [unintelligible], are we in the right direction? Are there other people we need to consider? Particularly as we move forward to the hundred million. So, just to back up a little bit, um, as Kerry mentioned, my background’s in homelessness policy, so I’m not on the political side. I’ve been working in homeless policy and direct services probably since about 1996, a lot of time in Philadelphia, and then when I moved back to here, [unintelligible] family [unintelligible], had experience [unintelligible] local government, I wanted to be in, now, the policy level. So this is kind of a passion, it’s something I wanted to one day say, I can move on to a different career because we’ve finally ended homelessness. It’s not something I [unintelligible]. I guess my interest was in community development and then just kept running into the intersection of homelessness and how do we build inclusive communities where all, all can have a sense of belonging and not have a [unintelligible]. So with all of that said, on September 22nd, Mayor Garcetti along with City Council made an announcement declaring an emergency. And there was a commitment of a hundred million dollars in resources to finally address homelessness. And, looking at it since that time, what does that really mean? What was the impetus of it? On the council side it was a way to really streamline our planning process, so permitting and zoning issues to both build affordable housing development as well as emergency or what we call crisis housing, to just literally to be able to move people off the street. And so there’s a lot of, um, [unintelligible] see the need, we have this twelve percent increase according to our recent head count and people were just, were looking at what you guys I’m sure are seeing on the street, um, and what do we do and feeling, kind of, their hands were tied, like, what’s going on? How do we just, how do we even begin, where do we begin and how do we reach an end, and that’s what the declaration did. And also, brought attention from the federal level. A couple weeks ago, secretary Castro, the HUD secretary, he was here, actually in San Diego, [unintelligible] stop in LA, but he said what’s going on? What can HUD do? What, you know, what can we do better? What can we do better, you know, not having enough resources, because their fear was, if LA is declaring a state of emergency other cities will start doing that too and what does that mean on a federal level? So it gave us an opportunity to really solidify our partnership with federal and with LA County. When we had the [unintelligible] announcement it was the first time, pretty much in recent history, that you had three city council members, the LA mayor, and the five board of supervisors in the same room together, and particularly discussing the issue of homelessness. And it wasn’t so much just for show, it was really, you know, I think that same week a couple days later supervisor Kuehl, Cruel [sic], and, uh, Ridley-Thomas came out with their announcement of a additional hundred million. So people are, are looking at what are the resources that we have and how we can get to, not to say, here’s our pile and we’re just gonna deal with our population but how do we pool the resources together? And at a policy level, what are the barriers that make that funding more accessible to providers, organizations on the ground. So we’re, um, doing a joint planning process, there’ve been sixteen policy summits, everything from land use to outreach and encampments, some of the best practices, and we’re hoping, the community has been involved then you can [unintelligible] to send out some members, cause they need [unintelligible], particularly from those of you that are private, um, developers and just from the private sector, particularly around land use issues, and, um, how do we incorporate that in the plan? And it’s gonna be that plan that will be revealed in January for public comment and then, incorporating public comment, for final release in February. That will guide the hundred million. Well, where’s it gonna come from? Mayor Garcetti is strong on creating new, uh, resources, looking at the proposed linkage fee as part of the development of a hundred thousand units by 2021, fifteen thousand of those will be affordable units. He’s talked about, um, just, in-house around the [unintelligible], so what how can we generate and how can we capitalize on some of the private development to help subsidize some of the affordable housing. It’s really, [unintelligible], there are really multiple issues of how someone becomes homelessness, or, someone becomes homeless, to how we come out of it so we have an affordable housing crisis [unintelligible] so how we know, uh, with growth and, uh, so, particularly some workers may not have to [unintelligible] drive, have a two hour commute to work. So [unintelligible] the most immediate [unintelligible] of that hundred million, fifteen million we’re hoping to release immediately, we’ve already started funding winter shelter. Ten million will go to, uh, [unintelligible] rapid rehousing, which means that can be a short-term rental subsidy for someone, it can cover moving costs, but there are people that we know lost a job, or had a major health-care crisis, and they just need temporary help to be able to, uh, either connect to mainstream benefits or to go back to work, and they’ll be fine, and then they got into, um, unsubsidized housing.
Unidentified interlocutor 1: Wait, how much money did you [unintelligible]?
Fabio Conti: Ten…
Alisa Orduna: Ten million.
Unidentified interlocutor 1: And then five, five went to winter shelters?
Fabio Conti: Fifteen!
Alisa Orduna: Fifteen total. Ten million for rapid rehousing, we have the three million for winter shelter. One million, um, we’re looking at for, and all this will go, we’re hoping that will go to LAHSA. Council still has to decide on that. Our recommendation that a million go to technology, so we have many outreach workers, including the BID workers, and as they find people, right now we’re still doing paper-and-pencil intake and we wanna be able to link the LAHSA database with iPads or iPhones in a secure system and streamlined. So let me, looking at feasibility, how to upgrade the current database as well as what technology will work best. And then another million to create regional-based, and we’re calling them “housing source centers,” so they would include storage facilities, so people can lock in their stuff on a voluntary basis, showers, toilets, and also [unintelligible] case management, the housing placement officers right inside, and so it’s not just a drop-in center but it really is your first link into that permanent housing. So there’s the, the last million will go to look at how we create this, and that’s really gonna be almost [unintelligible], it’ll probably look different in each spot based on [unintelligible].
Unidentified interlocutor 1: This fifteen million, it’s already been distributed, then? or…
Alisa Orduna: No, it’s very, it’s still coming out of Council committee, we’re hoping either this Friday or next Tuesday that it’ll come to full Council, and then after that ideally Council will create that it goes to LAHSA, and then LAHSA will contract it out. I would think that by January…
Unidentified interlocutor 2: And is there [unintelligible]?
Alisa Orduna: Within those categories? Sure, so the rapid rehousing, we want it to be kind of as flexible as possible, cause traditionally what would happen is program guidelines almost made the actual accessing [unintelligible] prohibitive because of all the restrictions. You must be [unintelligible], you might have a substance abuse issue, you must be beaten up, you know. So we wanted to be as flexible as possible for LAHSA. Again, as they kind of feed it out to coordinated entry system…like [unintelligible] these are kind of portals or providers that are working together, um, we wanted to be responsive to those needs, so it will be towards housing people, as far as the priority, and what [unintelligible] may see as that funding’s targeting people [unintelligible] according to how people score on [unintelligible]. As far as technology and the, uh, other centers, right now it’s really working with LAHSA and then who has the outreach [unintelligible] to define what that criteria [unintelligible]. But the priority is, this is short-term funding, this is a chance to help us do more evaluation of what’s going on, coming up with good money after that.
Unidentified interlocutor 2: That’s a good point. Thank you.
Alisa Orduna: That’s really what it is, it’s like we really have to do something concrete, but we wanna do it smart and we wanna look at [unintelligible]. Um, the other thing I’m trying [unintelligible] just quickly, um…
Fabio Conti: [unintelligible] the hundred million [unintelligible].
Alisa Orduna: So the hundred million was an announcement, and that was just a commitment, so that was just kinda throwing a benchmark out there and saying how are we gonna rise to the occasion? And so right now what’s happening is this collaborative partnership between the city and the county, we’re looking at what are the real needs, and what are the opportunities for funding. Some of it may be looking at, for instance, our community development block grant plan that we already received [unintelligible]. It may be starting to prioritize that in a different way based on current needs. Otherwise the mayor is really committed to finding new sources, and that’s where I think that the private sector and our BIDs and our, uh, business community can weigh in the most, and particularly around development, how do we benefit from this [unintelligible] without stymieing new growth? How do we provide the right balance of incentives for developers, we’re always told our planning process is horrible, it’s all [unintelligible] quite clear on the various permitting, is there a way to streamline that with a benefit of a linkage fee or something to dedicate to an affordable housing trust fund that would also build affordable housing [unintelligible]. So those are the real policy [unintelligible]…
Fabio Conti: Did anybody think, oh a hundred million! That’s [unintelligible]. There’s no hundred million.
Alisa Orduna: It’s kind of [unintelligible] is standing by that commitment, so everyone is looking for it.
- We were going to use the words “logorrheic dysphasia” in our headline, but we decided to be nice since she’s new.
- We wish we were kidding about this.
Image of Alisa Orduna is ©2015 MichaelKohlhaas.org. Image of yet another mass arrest by the BID Patrol is in the public domain, and let’s keep it there, shall we?