Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — City Councilman Kevin de León — the newly appointed chair of the council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee, following the suspension of former Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas — vowed that the council “will step up, and we will lean into this crisis with urgency.”
“Los Angeles has done enough talking, reporting and studying about the demoralizing crises of homelessness and poverty that has left an indelible mark of shame on our great city,” said de León, who was appointed committee chair by Council President Nury Martinez in the wake of Ridley-Thomas’ suspension by the council following his indictment on federal corruption charges.
“Right now, Angelenos are demanding a City Council that takes swift action to house people with compassion while restoring safety and cleanliness to our neighborhoods — and we will answer that call,” de León said. De León, who has served in the City Council since October 2020, represents Skid Row as part of his district, which also encompasses Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights and Highland Park.
“The sheer number — tens of thousands — of unsheltered individuals living in such inhumane conditions is a matter of life and death,” he said. “The encampments and unconscionable poverty have distorted the way we see our own city, diminishing our collective hope for a future where everyone can afford a place to sleep at night.
“Our dreams of civic pride, housing affordability and clean and safe streets will not come true on their own. We’ll have to work hard, and we’ll have to work together, to lead L.A. out of this crisis. As long as I am chair of this committee, we will not accept a status quo that lets our unsheltered neighbors die on our streets or allows women and children to languish on our streets at night.
“We will step up, and we will lean into this crisis with urgency.”
Soon after entering the council, de León launched his “A Way Home” initiative aimed at creating 25,000 new homeless housing units by 2025.
He also recently opened the largest Tiny Home Village in the United States, with 117 units and 224 beds to provide transitional housing in the Highland Park community.
Councilwoman Nithya Raman, who was already a member of the committee, is now serving as vice chair, Martinez’s office said.
Councilman Bob Blumenfield was appointed to the committee to fill Ridley-Thomas’ vacant seat, joining de León, Raman, Councilman Joe Buscaino and Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez.
The committee has not met since before Ridley-Thomas was indicted on Oct. 13. He was suspended by the council on Oct. 20 by an 11-3 vote.
Shortly after his suspension, Ridley-Thomas pleaded not guilty to federal bribery and conspiracy charges stemming from his time serving on the county Board of Supervisors.
Ridley-Thomas sent a letter to his council colleagues Oct. 28, weighing in on homelessness issues facing the city.
In the letter, Ridley-Thomas advocated for his “Right To Housing” agenda, expressed concern about the enforcement of the city’s new anti-camping law and opposed the cancellation of recent Homelessness and Poverty Committee meetings.
In the letter, Ridley-Thomas said he penned the missive to “express my deep concerns about the direction that the Los Angeles City Council has taken to address the homelessness crisis in the past two weeks concurrent with my absence from council meetings.”
“While the enforcement process is being advanced by the council, the necessary steps have not been taken to ensure accountability, transparency or effectiveness to demonstrate that the street engagement strategy has been fully implemented before any enforcement is approved at any particular location or locations,” Ridley-Thomas wrote. “If the city cannot clearly show the public that meaningful street engagement took place at each location — and that the offer of suitable housing was made and unsheltered residents at that location have been placed into suitable housing — all of the efforts to implement a balanced approach to address street homelessness will be for naught.”
He also criticized the council for canceling the homeless committee’s meetings since his suspension.