Improving Accountability and Oversight of Homeless Funds

LOS ANGELES COUNTY (September 1, 2020) – Acting on a motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn, the Board of Supervisors voted to explore new governance models that would improve the accountability and oversight of homeless services funds after a newly released review uncovered flaws in the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority (LAHSA)’s internal controls over the reporting and validation of performance data.

The Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller reviewed LAHSA’s performance data from July 2018 through June 2019, when LAHSA and its contractors provided services, primarily funded through Measure H, to approximately 70,000 people who were either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The review found that LAHSA was initially unable to provide documentation (such as a detailed list of clients served), and that performance data was not always accurately reported and resulted in an overstatement of program outcomes.

In 2018, the Auditor Controller reviewed LAHSA’s financial transactions, internal controls and compliance, and concluded that LAHSA’s fiscal operations needed improvement. At that time, Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Hahn brought forward a motion that instituted routine and ongoing monitoring of LAHSA’s systems. Many of the initial deficiencies have since been addressed, but as the most recent review demonstrates, there is still a need to ensure ongoing optimal performance and accountability.

“The need for oversight and accountability were embedded into the law that created Measure H, so the public should have confidence in the systems designed to track performance,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “Accurate and reliable data is crucial to making sure we are making the most of our resources, given the scale of the homeless crisis.”

“LAHSA was created before homelessness reached crisis proportions, and while it has bulked up personnel and scaled up operations in recent years, its governance model has remained stagnant,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added. “Perhaps it is time to explore new governance models with the goal of ensuring that we are best serving the thousands of homeless individuals and families who need help.”

Supervisor Hahn added, “The scale of the homelessness crisis and our strategies for tackling it have changed dramatically – but for decades LAHSA’s model has stayed the same. We need a new model that allows LAHSA to take on this crisis more effectively and treat it with the sense of urgency it demands.”

In their motion, both Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Hahn sought recommendations for alternative governance models or structures to administer and oversee homeless funds, programs and services on behalf of Los Angeles County to ensure optimal performance, transparency and accountability.