HomeCommunity NewsPlight of the Homeless Is Addressed by Barger

Plight of the Homeless Is Addressed by Barger

KATHRYN BARGER

The incongruity couldn’t be overlooked last Thursday afternoon as Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger addressed the Rotary Club of San Marino on a subject near to her heart: Homelessness.

That Barger was raised in this community—traditionally gauged as being one of the wealthiest in the nation—hasn’t dimmed her passion for the often uncomfortable subject. In fact, her comparative good fortune might have fueled it.

“I realize how lucky I am to have grown up in this community,” Barger said in front of an audience of almost 100 that included many she has known her entire life. “I have never forgotten that.”

Barger referred to a stabbing that had occurred on a Gold Line train earlier that day and was reportedly perpetrated by a homeless individual. She later mentioned that many homeless are sleeping in the trains, which she seemed to connect to a drop in ridership.

A graduate of San Marino High School, Barger said that it is her goal to find a way to create more hospitals for those with mental illnesses, referring to an urgent care facility in Portland, Oregon which primarily serves the mentally ill. She talked about the passage of Measure H, dubbed the Homeless Initiative, which raised the sales tax in Los Angeles County by ¼ of a cent and is expected to gather approximately $355 million annually for ten years for an expansion of outreach, emergency shelter, rapid rehousing, and supportive housing, as well as advocacy programs for homeless disabled adults. Barger even took part in a recent census count of the homeless in Los Angeles.

“I am not going to fool you,” she said. “We are never going to get rid of homelessness. There are many people who simply do not want to live in a home.”

Barger touted a SMART program, which offers incentives to landlord for low-cost housing and a local program that embeds social workers with law enforcement agencies in an effort to present services to the homeless and mentally ill.

Her address took an emotional turn when she mentioned a classmate she frequently contacts who has become homeless.

Barger began her career in public service as a college intern in the office of Supervisor Mike Antonovich and rose to become his chief deputy in 2001. She served in that capacity until November 2016, when she was elected Supervisor of Los Angeles County District 5, replacing Antonovich, who termed out after 36 years in that position.

During the course of her county career as chief policy advisor on health, mental health, social services and children’s issues, Barger has worked to provide effective services and programs to significantly improve the quality of life for foster children, seniors, veterans, those with disabilities, the homeless, and those with mental illnesses.

“Everyone agrees there is a homeless problem, but when you say you want to build something they say ‘not here,’” Barger lamented.

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