LOS ANGELES — On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell called attention to the “startling statistic” that Native Americans are almost 4 1/2 times more likely to become homeless when compared to the general Los Angeles County population.
“The city and county have taken major steps to address the long-standing issue of homelessness in Los Angeles; however, the Native American community is being left behind when it comes to housing and supportive services,” the councilmember, who is a member of the Wyandotte Nation, said on Monday, Oct. 12.
O’Farrell said he hopes to advance a policy initiative that “will address the even longer-standing needs of the Native American community, and I’m calling on our partners at the county and state level to join me to address the great needs of this community.”
O’Farrell was referring to a motion he filed in late September that calls for improving assessment methods to ensure all Native Americans are counted in the annual homeless survey, to improve cultural sensitivity among homeless services providers, and to make recommendations to fund housing for homeless Native Americans.
The motion also calls for the city to partner with the county to address the needs of Indigenous communities experiencing homelessness.
“As a Native community, we take pride in knowing how to take care of one another,” said Dr. Andrea Garcia, who serves on the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission. “Thanks to our community sharing their experiences and expertise, this work in addressing Native homelessness continues to move steadfastly ahead.”
If the motion is passed by the full City Council, the offices of the City Administrative Officer and Chief Legislative Analyst would hire a consultant to work directly with the Native American Indian Commission and provide recommendations to improve outreach, access, services, housing and shelter.
O’Farrell said he expects his motion to be heard by the full council within the next few weeks.
In addition, O’Farrell and Project Angel Food Executive Director Richard Ayoub announced a Project Angel Food/USC Keck School of Medicine Research Study to be conducted on Native Americans with Diabetes, the first of its kind.
It will be funded by Project Angel Food board member and philanthropist Runningbear Ramirez, a member of the San Manuel Band of Indians. and secretary of the Riverside-San Bernardino Indian Health, Inc., Project Angel Food.