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L.A. Unified Joins Fight Against Homelessness (10-13-18)

LOS ANGELES – November 13, 2018 – The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education approved Board Member Kelly Gonez’s resolution to find new ways to support homeless students and families. A forthcoming report will look at the feasibility of opening up district parking lots and gyms for overnight shelter and converting existing facilities for housing for homeless students. It also calls for revisiting the existing Homeless Education Program to improve its effectiveness. The resolution was cosponsored by Board President Mónica García and Board Vice President Nick Melvoin.

Photo of Board Member Kelly Gonez “The way to solve homelessness is by finding families shelter, and district facilities can be one piece of that solution,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez. “Thanks to the voters of Los Angeles City and County, there is new funding to address this challenge, and L.A. Unified must be an active partner in the work to get our families off the streets.”

As a result of the resolution, the school district will consider whether district-owned parking lots could provide a safe place for those living in cars and whether school facilities could be opened during winter and summer recesses as temporary shelters. Longer-term plans could include converting or building permanent housing on district facilities.

Board Member Gonez continued, “Across L.A. Unified, our teachers and principals are doing everything they can to keep our homeless students fed, well cared for, and learning. But the sheer number of families facing homelessness just exacerbates the problem. We owe it to our students to be innovative in finding ways to address their full range of needs.”

"Our students, employees and families are impacted by the housing crisis on a daily basis," said Board President Mónica García. "As community wellness is our collective responsibility, L.A. Unified must continue to partner with all levels of government and community-based organizations to accelerate the work to address the needs of our community with an emphasis on equity, innovation and urgency."

“When our kids come to school, we want them to learn,” said Board Vice President Nick Melvoin. “But when more than 16,000 students are experiencing homelessness in L.A. Unified, they come to school saddled with worries about where their next meal will come from or where they might sleep that night, we know it becomes immeasurably difficult to focus on learning. We all have a part to play in facilitating a brighter future for these students, and we want to support the City and County efforts to provide more stable and safe sheltering options so that our kids can focus on learning.”

“L.A. Unified already works very hard to support and provide services to our homeless students,” said Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson, “and I look forward to working collaboratively with the City of Los Angeles and the County to provide more permanent solutions to end homelessness.”

The resolution tasks the Superintendent with assessing the effectiveness of the current Homeless Education Program as well as identifying ways to expand and improve homeless supports and how homelessness is identified in the district. It asks staff to deepen partnerships with City, County, and non-profits to expand wraparound supports for homeless students.

Finally, the district calls on the federal government to double its resources to support homeless students.