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Friday, April 19, 2024

LA to audit budget spending while head of homelessness policy is paid $430,000 annually

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The Los Angeles County government is conducting an audit of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). On February 27, the LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an ordinance that would allow the County Auditor-Controller to audit LAHSA’s contracts and use of government funding.

The Board of Supervisors aims to audit LAHSA to ensure transparency in homelessness prevention and policy implementation.

The ordinance requires the County Controller and the LAHSA CEO to audit how LAHSA handles its finances, contracts, procurement, risk management, and grants—areas that are apparently operated as separate sections.

A homeless person, whose tent is pitched nearby, salvages his belongings on January 10 in the wake of a fire at the warehouse in downtown LA. [Sangjin Kim, The Korea Daily]
“As Los Angeles County continues to combat the humanitarian crisis that is homelessness, every entity that plays a role in ending the crisis must be challenged, evaluated, and supported to ensure optimal performance,” the Board of Supervisors stated.

LAHSA was created by the City and County of Los Angeles to implement policies addressing homelessness. In recent years, homelessness has skyrocketed across L.A. County, and its budget has also grown.

The Board of Supervisors appointed Supervisors Lindsey Horvath and Kathryn Barger as LAHSA commissioners last year in response to the agency’s growing role and budget. In March of the previous year, the Board appointed Va Lecia Adams Kellum as LAHSA’s Chief Executive Officer.

Kellum said she is committed to working with the Controller’s office on the audit. “When I was hired, I spoke of creating a new LAHSA focused on achieving lasting results and the highest level of transparency. After reviewing our financial practices over the last 11 months, I knew changes were needed,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Daily News, according to an LAHSA staff report, stated Kellum’s base salary is $430,000.

The 2022-2023 budget for LAHSA amounted to $845.4 million, out of which $726.2 million was distributed to service providers. According to LAHSA’s records, approximately $662 million of the budget for service providers was designated for temporary and permanent housing. Additionally, LAHSA’s administrative costs accounted for $40.3 million of the overall budget.

In early February, the Board of Supervisors approved a $672.3 million budget for LAHSA’s 2024-2025 fiscal year. Of that amount, $617.5 million is funded by Measure H, which passed in 2017 to combat the homelessness crisis.

The state will provide the remaining $55 million for the Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention Program (HHAP).

BY HYOUNGJAE KIM, JUNHAN PARK    [kim.ian@koreadaily.com]