Blogs Najee's Notes Opinion

NAJEE’S NOTES: Councilman O’Farrell speaks up for homeless

On Aug. 9, Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell introduced a resolution in support of a bill by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, that could help the city’s fight against homelessness.

O’Farrell, whose council district includes part of Hollywood, has always been a quiet but extremely effective spiritual warrior for his community that dates to his days as a community activist when he started volunteering on several community projects.

When Mayor Eric Garcetti was running for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council, O’Farrell did some volunteer work for him and was later elected president of the Glassell Park Improvement Association and helped form a neighborhood council.

In 2002, he was hired by then-Councilman Garcetti to work in his office. He stayed for 10 years. He was a field deputy, then deputy director, then district director and then senior advisor.

I normally cover all things in South L.A. but with our community continuing to be rocked by homelessness and African Americans disproportionately affected by it citywide, the work and leadership that O’Farrell shows needs to be highlighted because it has a major impact on South L.A. and black and brown people all over the city.

Waters, who introduced H.R. 1856, the Ending Homelessness Act of 2019, would provide more than $13 billion for homeless housing and services across the country over the next five years. This piece of legislation is critical and desperately needed.

In his resolution, O’Farrell noted that according to the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority, Los Angeles County contains approximately 10% of all homeless people in the United States. The city’s 2019 point-in-time homeless count identified more than 36,000 homeless people in the city of Los Angeles alone.

“Tackling the national homelessness crisis requires action at the local, state and federal level, regardless of political party affiliation,” said O’Farrell, who serves as chair of the city’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee. “This new funding is intended to go toward permanent supportive housing production, Section 8 vouchers, integration of health care and other key services. Collectively, we have the resources in the public and private sector to provide lasting, permanent solutions. Now is the time to bring those resources to bear.”

I couldn’t agree with O’Farrell more. We need all hands on deck to help solve the homelessness crisis in South L.A. I want to personally thank him for always having the courage and conviction to help those less fortunate, not just his constituents in his council district, but caring about what happens to everyone in the city. I’m very passionate about this homelessness crisis whenever I drive through parts of South L.A. I see the growing number of black people living in tents and under the freeways. I’m dedicated to sharing information on how we can all help end the crisis and support city leaders.

O’Farrell’s resolution will next go before the council’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee. I plan on being at this meeting also and will share the date once it’s announced.

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Congratulations to Carmen D. Hawkins, who is retiring after 31 years of public service with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. Council President Herb Wesson will recognize her retirement with a city council presentation  Aug. 23 at 10 a.m. at Los Angeles City Hall in the John Ferraro Council Chambers. I’ve had the privilege to work alongside Hawkins as we both served on Mayor Garcetti’s African American Heritage Month Celebration Committee. Hawkins is a tireless behind the scenes worker, always first to serve and her dedication and advocacy on behalf of those who don’t have a voice will be truly missed.

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