PRESS RELEASE: COUNCILMEMBER NITHYA RAMAN SWORN IN, ANNOUNCES FIRST MOTIONS

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For Immediate Release: December 15, 2020

COUNCILMEMBER NITHYA RAMAN SWORN IN, ANNOUNCES FIRST MOTIONS

LOS ANGELES-- LA City Councilmember-elect Nithya Raman was sworn in today at her first City Council meeting. This morning, she released a statement on her first motions in Council:

For the first time, I’m writing to you as your councilmember. I’ll be honest, the responsibility I feel to each and every one of you is a tad overwhelming. But I am deeply humbled that you have entrusted me with this position from which -- together -- I know we can change our city for the better.

In fact, I ran for this seat because my neighbors and I tried to do exactly that. Four years ago, we advocated for a place where unhoused residents could access services in our district. When it didn’t materialize, we built a system of care from the ground up. Today, I am introducing two motions in City Council for the city to do much more of what we wanted to see in our neighborhood. 

My goal as your councilmember is to approach problems from a systems perspective. To reimagine and strengthen systems of care. To make them more efficient and make them work for everyone, especially our most vulnerable. While our city’s fiscal situation may be dire, we can still do far more -- for all Angelenos.

To that end, I am introducing two motions today. The first is about setting up our Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to succeed by shifting the focus of its homeless outreach services from a system that is largely reactive and scattershot to one that is proactive, consistent, and geographically grounded, where the same caseworkers regularly return to the same encampments, get to know each of their clients by name, and are accountable for their progress towards housing.

Unlike our current system, in which the majority of outreach occurs in response to complaints and often accompanied by city employees in Sanitation and armed officers within LAPD, proactive outreach has been shown to expedite the path to housing and services, expand data collection, maintain cleanliness, and improve relationships between unhoused people and their housed neighbors and local businesses. Most importantly, regular contact from caseworkers helps build meaningful relationships of trust, which are essential to the work of helping someone from a tent into a home for good.

My second motion is about building the kind of place I and my former colleagues at SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition have long sought. As homelessness has become widespread across our entire city, services have not expanded to meet the need. In many parts of Los Angeles, there is not a single place where an unhoused person can use a restroom, take a shower, store their belongings, or speak to a social worker who can help them secure shelter or medical treatment.

Nonprofits in Los Angeles that operate low-barrier drop-in centers, such as PATH, Volunteers of America, and SELAH have successfully used hygiene, storage, and caseworker services to direct many of their guests into stable housing and treatment. The city of LA has recognized the value of this model as well, funding centers in North Hollywood, San Pedro, and South Los Angeles, but not in District 4. This critical link in the City’s homelessness response system must be filled.

Finally, as I’ve written previously, we’re assembling a CD4 Volunteer Corps to harness the incredible volunteerism of our campaign into doing good across the district. As of this morning, 796 people have already signed up to help -- a fact which fills me with joy. You can still sign up here, even if you don’t live in CD4.

LA’s dual health and economic crises have made it clear where the Volunteer Corps’ first project must lie. With a fiscal crisis limiting our city government’s ability to adequately respond, this is a moment that calls for everyone to step up and make sure their fellow Angelenos have the resources they need to stay healthy, fed, and housed during this terrible second wave of COVID-19. 

The Corps will leverage its manpower to reach out by phone, text, and mail to ensure that residents, including those who often lack the resources to make their voices heard -- ESL speakers, the elderly, the undocumented, the food and housing insecure -- are connected with appropriate care and resources, and to identify gaps in those resources that can help us shape policy going forward.

More people voted in this past City Council election than any in LA history. That means more people than ever are looking to their government for solutions right now.

To the residents of CD4, from Sherman Oaks to Silver Lake, Hollywood, Miracle Mile, Toluca Lake, Los Feliz, Hancock Park, and Koreatown, thank you for the opportunity to work as hard as I can for every single one of you. I have heard your voices on the campaign and I hold them with me as I enter City Hall.

I’m so humbled that you’ve given me your trust, and I’m so excited to begin this journey with you.

CONTACT: Jesse Zwick
Email: jesse.zwick@lacity.org