L.A.’s homeless agency faces calls to dissolve ties with police

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Heidi Marston, who heads the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, speaks to reporters in 2019.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Heidi Marston, who heads the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, speaks to reporters in 2019.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

As protests roiled Los Angeles, the head of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority was spurred to speak out after seeing a gruesome image of a homeless man bleeding from his eye — an injury allegedly caused by a round fired by police.

“Police violence is unacceptable against all and especially against vulnerable people experiencing homelessness who have nowhere else to go,” Heidi Marston wrote on Twitter on June 6. “We are calling for immediate and lasting reforms.”

That same morning, a LAHSA supervisor was chastised for sending all her coworkers a petition with a much broader demand: To immediately end their partnerships with police agencies.

In an impassioned email to her coworkers, Kristy Lovich had argued that working with police defied their core values and undermined their work, especially since Black people make up a disproportionate share of people who are homeless.

The episode is the latest eruption of a longstanding debate within the agency, which handles homeless outreach and services across Los Angeles County, over how — or whether — to work with law enforcement. As protests over police brutality and racism sweep Los Angeles and the country, that debate has exploded into public view.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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