Mark Ridley-Thomas Joins LAHSA SEIU 721 Members as They Perform Vital Outreach to the Unhoused

On Monday, L.A. City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas joined SEIU 721 members from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) as they performed critical outreach to unhoused residents in Mid-City.

Ridley-Thomas, who chairs the City Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee, walked with LAHSA homeless engagement team (HET) workers as they interacted with unhoused neighbors, informing the unhoused of the aid LAHSA provides and offering food, water bottles, and hygiene kits. The outreach is key to building rapport with the unhoused community, increasing the likelihood that the population will be receptive to LAHSA supports, such as connections to shelter, housing, and other services.

The walk was one of several meetings that LAHSA SEIU 721 members have organized recently to educate the City’s elected leaders about the vital work we do for unhoused people every day. During these sessions, several City Councilmembers have expressed their support for LAHSA workers.

Mark Ridley-Thomas Joins LAHSA SEIU 721 Members as They Perform Vital Outreach to the Unhoused

The commitments of support have come as a group of L.A. Councilmembers have attacked LAHSA and submitted motions for the City to withdraw from the agency. Alarmingly, the City committed to fund LAHSA for only three months in its 2021-2022 fiscal budget, putting unhoused neighbors at risk of losing critical services and many agency positions in jeopardy.

“It’s important our elected leaders know: LAHSA staff make critical connections for the unhoused, helping them to obtain shelter and services that put many on a path to permanent housing,” said Loren Jackson, a HET worker and member of the LAHSA bargaining team. “Severing the city’s relationship with the agency is counterproductive and will not solve the City’s unhoused crisis.”

Loren added: “We’re glad that Councilmember Ridley-Thomas has taken the time to learn about how we assist and support the unhoused and has expressed his appreciation for our frontline work.”

LAHSA staffer talks with unhoused resident in Venice.
Thankfully, several elected leaders in the City have listened to SEIU 721 members so far. On September 3, the City Council is expected to pass a motion that will fund the agency through the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2022). The Council is also expected to approve 17 City-funded HET positions that will support a new pilot “Street Engagement Strategy.”

During the walk, LAHSA staff also told Ridley-Thomas about the challenging conditions members throughout LAHSA often face on the job, such as large workloads that lead to burnout and dangerous situations — including risks associated with increasing COVID-19 infections in the City.

To address these concerns, LAHSA SEIU 721 members are calling on the agency’s management to negotiate a fair contract that includes hazard pay, increased time off, and boosted resources for mental health services, among other things.

“LAHSA SEIU 721 members have worked hard to protect the agency’s funding,” Loren said. “We feel it’s only fair that management work with LAHSA staff on a contract that helps frontline workers perform their jobs better and keeps them safe and healthy as they provide vital services to the region’s unhoused population.”

Stay tuned for more updates on LAHSA’s L.A. City funding and the ongoing contract negotiations.

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Categories: LAHSA