Statement from LA County Supervisor Barger Regarding Dr. Drew Pinsky




“As my proposed appointee to the LAHSA Commission, I brought forward Dr. Drew Pinsky – a respected medical doctor who offers decades of experience in mental health care and substance abuse treatment. I knew that Dr. Drew would bring a new, forward-thinking approach and would help us address mental health and substance abuse as driving factors in the ongoing homelessness crisis. Unfortunately, the proposed appointment took away from these important conversations about care for people experiencing homelessness.


“We need to face the sad reality of homelessness in Los Angeles:  individuals are dying on our streets from preventable causes due to mental illness and substance abuse; the number of people experiencing homeless is going up; and encampments are on the rise in every corner of the region. The status quo is not working, and neither are the current efforts by LAHSA.


“We cannot and should not hide behind arguments about resources and housing. The County and City have spent millions of dollars each year through Measures H and HHH on housing and supportive services and it’s not making a visible impact. Instead, we need to look at the real issues plaguing our vulnerable residents. UCLA, in its study of the homeless population in Los Angeles, found that approximately 78% of our unsheltered homeless population suffered from a mental health condition– and we know that often, mental health and substance abuse are intertwined. Yet we continue to have the same conversations concerning housing supply and affordable housing, and it’s not enough. We must address what is ailing vulnerable residents so once we connect them to housing, they are able to stay in housing.


“I am dismayed that anyone would question the appointment of a doctor with a passion for addressing these issues when a new voice is clearly needed – especially one that is medically trained. There is a compelling need on the LAHSA Commission, and in any conversations around homelessness, to have the perspective of a board-certified clinician with years of experience working with individuals suffering from substance abuse disorders at a psychiatric hospital.


“I will continue to collaborate with Dr. Drew in other capacities and I know that he will continue to care for those suffering from mental illness and substance abuse.


“I hope we can move past pettiness and instead focus our time and energy on working to solve the hard problems, rather than looking for excuses to place blame. There are thousands of individuals on the streets right now who need our help and we cannot delay.”