By T.A. Hendrickson
Councilmember Kevin de León has been appointed chair of the Los Angeles City Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee. He replaces Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas who was suspended from office after his recent indictment on federal corruption charges.
City Council President Nury Martinez announced De León’s appointment on Nov 2.
In a statement on his appointment, De León thanked Martinez for her trust in him and promised “swift action to house people with compassion while restoring safety and cleanliness to our neighborhoods.” Read the full statement here.
De León has made homelessness his priority since joining the City Council in October 2020. In January, he launched “A Way Home,” a multi-part plan to tackle homelessness in L.A. In August, the City Council voted unanimously to adopt the plan’s central goal of creating at least 25,000 new homeless housing units by 2025. This fall, De León opened a 117-unit tiny-home village for the homeless in Highland Park and broke ground on a 48-unit tiny-home village in Eagle Rock.
In July, De León voted with a majority on the City Council to prohibit homeless camping on public property near schools, parks and other sensitive locations, though his emphasis has been not on encampment bans but rather on providing housing and social services to help homeless people leave the streets.
As chair of the Homelessness and Poverty committee, De León is in a strong position to steer policy in the direction he wants it to go.
In general, each councilmember is the chair of one permanent City Council committee, but by replacing the suspended Ridley-Thomas, De León now becomes the only councilmember to chair two such committees; he also heads the committee on Immigrant Affairs, Civil Rights and Equity. Given that power and visibility come with committee chairmanships, the opportunity to head a second committee comes at a politically auspicious time for De León, who announced his candidacy for L.A. Mayor in September.
In addition to his chairmanships, De León is a member of three City Council committees: Budget and Finance; Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice and River; and Public Works.
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T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times.