LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León — the newly appointed chair of the council's Homelessness and Poverty Committee, following the suspension of former Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas — vowed Tuesday that the council "will step up, and we will lean into this crisis with urgency."
"Los Angeles has done enough talking, reporting and studying about the demoralizing crises of homelessness and poverty that has left an indelible mark of shame on our great city," said de León, who was appointed committee chair by Council President Nury Martinez in the wake of Ridley-Thomas' suspension by the council following his indictment on federal corruption charges.
"Right now, Angelenos are demanding a City Council that takes swift action to house people with compassion while restoring safety and cleanliness to our neighborhoods — and we will answer that call," de León said.
De León, who has served in the City Council since October 2020, represents Skid Row as part of his district, which also encompasses Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights and Highland Park.
"The sheer number — tens of thousands — of unsheltered individuals living in such inhumane conditions is a matter of life and death," he said.
"The encampments and unconscionable poverty have distorted the way we see our own city, diminishing our collective hope for a future where everyone can afford a place to sleep at night.
"Our dreams of civic pride, housing affordability and clean and safe streets will not come true on their own. We'll have to work hard, and we'll have to work together, to lead LA out of this crisis. As long as I am chair of this committee, we will not accept a status quo that lets our unsheltered neighbors die on our streets or allows women and children to languish on our streets at night.
"We will step up, and we will lean into this crisis with urgency."
Soon after entering the council, de León launched his "A Way Home" initiative aimed at creating 25,000 new homeless housing units by 2025.
He also recently opened the largest Tiny Home Village in the United States, with 117 units and 224 beds to provide transitional housing in the Highland Park community.
Councilwoman Nithya Raman, who was already a member of the committee, is now serving as vice chair, Martinez's office said.
Councilman Bob Blumenfield was appointed to the committee to fill the vacant seat, joining de León, Raman, Councilman Joe Buscaino and Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez.
The committee has not met since before Ridley-Thomas was indicted on Oct. 13. He was suspended by the council on Oct. 20 by an 11-3 vote.
Shortly after his suspension, Ridley-Thomas pleaded not guilty to federal bribery and conspiracy charges stemming from his time serving on the county Board of Supervisors.