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LAC+USC Medical Center gets “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader” nod

LAC+USC Medical Center received a maximum score among health care providers nationwide earning the coveted designation

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

WASHINGTON— The LAC+USC Medical Center received the designation of “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader” for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 15th anniversary edition of the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), on Monday, earning an exemplary evaluation score of 100.

HEI, the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey of healthcare facilities on policies and practices dedicated to the equitable treatment and inclusion of their LGBTQ+ patients, visitors and employees, had a record 906 healthcare facilities who actively participated in the 2022 HEI survey, with 496 of those earning an “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation.

“We are very pleased to be a recipient of the 2022 LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader designation.  Our healthcare professionals take great pride in providing world-class care and helping to advance the level of care equality to our  LGBTQ patients and their families, “ said Jorge Orozco, Chief Executive Officer of LAC+USC Medical Center.  

“LAC+USC Medical Center is proud to provide high quality, patient-centered healthcare to our LGBTQ community, and to be a place of work where our staff thrive as their authentic selves,” said Brad Spellberg, Chief Medical Officer of LAC+USC Medical Center.

“Every person deserves to have access to quality healthcare, be respected and heard by their doctor, and feel safe in the facility where they are receiving care. But LGBTQ+ people are often subject to discrimination in all spaces, including healthcare facilities, which leads to members of the community avoiding care and anticipating our voices will not be respected in an incredibly vulnerable environment,” said Tari Hanneman, Director of Health & Aging at The Human Rights Campaign. “The Healthcare Equality Index, at its core, strives to ensure LGBTQ+ people are protected and affirmed by their healthcare providers and feel safe seeking services. Our HEI active participants are truly pioneering the healthcare industry by implementing robust, comprehensive LGBTQ+ inclusive policies that hopefully, because of their work, will become standard practice.”

The HEI evaluates and scores healthcare facilities on detailed criteria falling under four central pillars:

  • Foundational Policies and Training in LGBTQ+ Patient-Centered Care;
  • LGBTQ+ Patient Services and Support;
  • Employee Benefits and Policies; and,
  • Patient and Community Engagement.

In the 2022 report, an impressive 496 facilities earned HRC’s “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation, receiving the maximum score in each section and earning an overall score of 100. Another 251 facilities earned the “Top Performer” designation with scores between 80 and 95 points and at least partial credit in each section. With 82% of participating facilities scoring 80 points or more, health care facilities are demonstrating concretely that they are going beyond the basics when it comes to adopting policies and practices in LGBTQ+ care.

The remarkable progress reflected in the 2022 HEI includes:

  • 93% of participants met the HEI’s training requirements, completing more than 200,000 hours of staff training in LGBTQ+ patient-centered care.
  • 82% of participating facilities earned either the Leader or Top Performer.
  • 99% of HEI participants documented that they include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their patient non-discrimination policy.
  • 99% of HEI participants documented that they include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their employment nondiscrimination policy.
  • 81% of HEI participants offer transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits to their employees, up from 75% in 2019, which was the first year this it was required in order to obtain Leader status. 2020.

In addition to active survey participants, the HRC Foundation proactively researched the key policies for LGBTQ+ inclusion at over 1,300 non-participating hospitals. Unfortunately, these research hospitals were much less likely to have LGBTQ+ non-discrimination policies in place, which is a stark contrast to the near-perfect adoption by active participants. Among the researched hospitals in which we were able to find or obtain enumerated patient non-discrimination policies, only 70% have policies that include both sexual orientation and gender identity compared to 99% of HEI participants.

LAC+USC Medical Center

LAC+USC Medical Center, one of the largest public hospitals in the country is a 600-bed, Level One Trauma Center and an academic teaching hospital run by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS). 

Through its affiliations with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) and the Los Angeles County College of Nursing and Allied Health, it is one of the premier academic teaching hospitals in the nation and one of the state’s leading hospitals for training health professionals.

LAC+USC operates special units that serve patients across the Southern California region, including a Burn Center, Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and Psychiatric and Pediatric Emergency Rooms. LAC+USC is home to the Rand Schrader HIV/AIDS Clinic, the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) offering medical, mental health, protective, and social services to over 20,000 victims of family violence and sexual assault each year, and a renowned medical clinic for children at risk for or already in foster care.

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Los Angeles County

New on the LA County Channel

You can watch on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

New on the County Channel

Lights, camera, nostalgia! The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in the heart of Los Angeles’ Miracle Mile is the perfect destination for movie buffs with special exhibitions and a permanent collection taking viewers behind the scenes into how cinema magic is made.

You can watch more stories like this on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here.

In Case You Missed It

Calling All Property Owners and Managers

If you have a vacant residential building or apartment units available, there is a fast and simple way to find qualified renters. LeaseUp is the go-to service for people leasing properties across LA County. LeaseUp is an initiative from the PATH non-profit organization that partners with service providers and property owners, developers, and managers in order to quickly fill vacancies and help those at risk of homelessness find and maintain housing.

At Your Service

Grants Available for First-time Homebuyers

The Department of Consumer and Business Affairs and LA County Center for Financial Empowerment has launched the County of Los Angeles Greenline Home Program which aims to tackle the legacy of redlining. The goal is to empower and uplift economically marginalized communities. $35,000 grants will be available for first-time homebuyers living in LA County.

To learn more about eligibility requirements visit dcba.lacounty.gov/greenline.

Out and About

Rise, Reclaim, Restore

Teens are invited to join the LA County Department of Public Health at the Rise, Reclaim, Restore Youth Mental Health Summit. Through engaging workshops and interactive activities, these summits will equip young people with the tools to navigate their mental well-being, support their friends, and become leaders in their schools. Together, we will explore strategies for self-care, coping mechanisms, and building resilience.

Youth who attend will be eligible for raffle prizes, freebies, and community service hours! Click here to learn more.

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A look inside LA County’s new ballot processing center ahead of the March 5 Primary election. Make your plan to vote today!
(Photo: Los Angeles County / Mayra Beltran Vasquez)

Click here to access more photos of LA County in action.

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Los Angeles County

New on the LA County Channel

You can watch on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here

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New on the County Channel

LA County’s state of emergency on homelessness is one year old. This seismic shift has accelerated service delivery, cut red tape, and sparked critical change for LA County and our communities. Watch this video to learn more about how LA County is charting a new course to end homelessness.

To learn more about LA County’s response to the homeless emergency, visit homeless.lacounty.gov/emergency/year-one/.

You can watch more stories like this on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here.

In Case You Missed It

Make Your Plan to Vote By Mail – Register by February 20!

The March 5th Presidential Primary Election is quickly approaching, and we want to make sure you’re ready to make your voice heard. This year, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk has made it easier than ever to be a voter.

Skip the lines and make your plan to Vote by Mail today.

It’s fast, easy, and convenient to Vote by Mail:

  1. Register to vote by February 20th to receive your Vote by Mail ballot. Have you moved? Are you new to L.A. County? Will this be your first time voting? Update your voter registration here.
  2. Drop your ballot off in the mail or at an Official Ballot Drop Box. Look out for your ballot in the mail. When you receive it, fill it in, sign it, and drop it off at a mailbox on your way to work, on your daily walk, or when dropping the kids off at school. You can also drop it off at any Ballot Drop Box near you.
  3. Securely track your ballot with the Where’s My Ballot? tool. Hesitating to Vote by Mail because you want to make sure your vote is counted? The Where’s My Ballot? tool will maintain your privacy and track your ballot every step of the way. Track your ballot here.

When you Vote by Mail, you ensure that work, school, long lines, or a bad commute on Election Day won’t stop your ballot from being counted. Make your plan to vote today!

February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month

February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month, and the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control has opportunities for pet owners to spay and neuter their pets at a reduced cost.

To see if you qualify for a reduced-cost voucher, send an email to: [email protected] or call (562) 345-0321.

Remember, spaying and neutering your pets are required by law in LA County.
To learn more about the Department of Animal Care and Control visit: animalcare.lacounty.gov.

At Your Service

Misfortune & Calamity Tax Relief

If your home was damaged by the recent flooding and mudslides, you may be eligible for tax relief. To qualify, you must file an application with the Assessor’s Office within 12 months from the date the property was damaged or destroyed, and the loss must exceed $10,000 of the current market value.

To learn more, visit assessor.lacounty.gov/tax-relief/disaster-relief.

Out and About

Celebrate Black History Month

Celebrate Black History Month with Los Angeles County at one of many events happening throughout the County. We also encourage you to join us in a month-long tribute to the trailblazers who have influenced our community and the world. 

For more information, or to find an event near you, click here.

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LA County’s Military and Veteran Affairs’ Gallery of Heroes – African American Military History. (Photo: Los Angeles County / Mayra Beltran Vasquez)


Click here to access more photos of LA County in action.

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Los Angeles County

Erosion and storm damage to close PCH in Malibu nightly

Full closure of PCH in Malibu nightly 6PM-7AM or later until further notice due to erosion. Check traffic app/website before driving

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This photo released on Feb. 14, 2024 shows the damage to the Pacific Coast Highway after the recent storms. (Photo Credit: Caltrans)

LOS ANGELES – Officials from Caltrans District 7 in Los Angeles and the City of Malibu announced that the Pacific Coast Highway, (PCH) California Highway 1 from Sycamore Canyon Road in the City of Malibu to Las Posas Road in Ventura County will be closed to traffic  “until further notice” from 6 p.m. to at least 7 a.m. daily “until further notice.”

According to CalTrans, significant erosion and storm damage from the back to back atmospheric river events coupled with heavy rainfall and high tide wave action damaged sections of PCH’s ocean side shoulder.

A spokesperson for the agency acknowledged that more expected storms is likely to further impact the damaged sections of the roadway.

“Caltrans plans to install k-rails to block off the righthand ocean side lane and begin emergency steps to stabilize the collapsed slope,” the agencs said. “A Caltrans inspector must assess the damage each morning and determine when it’s safe to reopen.”

Once PCH does reopen each morning, it will likely be limited to two lanes in both directions, as “crews will shift lanes to the land side.”

The City of Malibu released a statement noting:

Full closure of PCH nightly 6PM-7AM or later, Sycamore Cyn – Las Posas until further notice due to erosion. Check traffic app/website before driving

All lanes of PCH in both directions will be closed nightly 6:00 PM to 700 AM (or later) from Sycamore Canyon Rd to Las Posas Road in Ventura County until further notice due to erosion of ocean side shoulder from high tides and storm damage, and more expected storms. Reopening times may vary based on high tides or storm conditions. Motorists should use alternate routes.

Caltrans plans to install k-rails to block off the righthand ocean side lane and begin emergency steps to stabilize the collapsed slope. A Caltrans inspector must assess the damage each morning and determine when it’s safe to reopen. Crews will shift lanes to the land side to provide two lanes in both directions. Watch for reduced speed limit signs, and workers and work vehicles in the road. Under California law, traffic violation fines are doubled in construction zones.

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Los Angeles County

Chair of LA County Supervisors announces storm recovery efforts

Disaster assistance programs are not guaranteed, so residents and businesses are encouraged to continue working with their insurance carriers

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Lindsey P. Horvath, Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES – As Los Angeles County begins to support residents with their individual recovery efforts following the recent storms, Lindsey P. Horvath, Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, wants to help connect impacted community members to recovery resources and activities.

“As we begin the recovery process, Los Angeles County is here to support the renters, homeowners, and businesses impacted by the storm,” said Horvath. “No one is alone in navigating this process, and the County is here to help ensure our communities are connected to the resources they need. We came together to stay safe, and we’ll do the same through our recovery process.”

The first step in the process is for individuals and businesses to complete a survey to answer preliminary questions regarding any damage that was sustained from the recent storms. The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will work directly with the County’s 88 cities to analyze this information and validate what is reported.

This survey is intended for information gathering purposes and will be used to determine if the County is eligible for various disaster assistance programs based on the total amount of damages reported Countywide.

Disaster assistance programs are not guaranteed, so residents and businesses are encouraged to continue working with their insurance carriers while this information is collected.

The public can access the Damage Collection Survey at https://recovery.lacounty.gov/february-2024-winter-storm/. The County’s Recovery page for the 2024 storms will serve as a resource hub for all post-disaster information.

Residents are encouraged to visit the website regularly for the most up-to-date information regarding recovery activities. For assistance in completing the survey, residents can call 2-1-1.

The LA County Assessor’s Office is also here to help through Misfortune & Calamity Tax Relief. Learn more at https://assessor.lacounty.gov/tax-relief/disaster-relief.

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Los Angeles County

New on the LA County Channel

You can watch on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

New on the County Channel

Fireworks welcomed the start of the Lunar New Year at Portrero Park in Montebello where local residents celebrated traditional food and stories.

You can watch more stories like this on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here.

In Case You Missed It

Accessible Estate Planning for LA County Residents

Are you a resident of LA County looking to secure your family’s future? The Leaving a Legacy program makes estate planning a seamless and accessible process. Whether it’s drafting a will or setting up a trust, we understand the importance of creating a lasting legacy and offering protection for your loved ones.

Let us guide you through this important process with ease and confidence. Don’t wait to take this crucial step in safeguarding your legacy. Visit dcba.lacounty.gov/leavingalegacy today for more details and start preparing for a better tomorrow.

At Your Service

Shop Local This Valentine’s Day!

Love is in the air, and we’re thrilled to celebrate Valentine’s Day with you! As part of our ongoing commitment to support local businesses in LA County, the Department of Economic Opportunity is extending their Shop Local Sweepstakes to give you a chance to win up to $500 to your favorite small business!

Here’s how you can participate:

  • Shop Local: Show your love for our community by shopping at any participating local business in LA County. Whether you’re searching for the perfect gift for your special someone or treating yourself, every purchase counts!
  • Spread the Love: Share your experiences on social media using the hashtags #ShopLocalLA and #ValentinesDay. Let’s spread the love and encourage others to support our incredible local businesses.
  • Enter to Win: Visit our website ShopLocal.LA/win to enter our Valentine’s Day sweepstakes. Simply fill out the pledge form for a chance to win!

This Valentine’s Day, we can make a difference by supporting our local businesses!

Out and About

Celebrate Black History Month with Parks and Recreation

Black History Month is an annual observance that focuses attention on the contributions of African Americans to the United States. Celebrated around the world, Black History Month honors the triumphs, contributions, and struggles of Black people from all periods of U.S. history. Through education and acknowledgement, join LA County’s Department of Parks and Recreation in recognizing past and present key figures, and moments during Black History Month at a Los Angeles County Park.

For more information, or to find an event near you, click here.

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Lunar New Year Event at Rosemead Library. (Los Angeles County/Mayra Vasquez)

Visit LACounty.gov to learn more about Lunar New Year events, programming and resources that are available for you to access.

Click here to access more photos of LA County in action.

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Los Angeles County

Medical debt increases in LA County to more than $2.9 billion

Medical debt continues to affect approximately 1 in 10 adults in LA County in 2022, similar to the prevalence of major health conditions

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Los Angeles Blade/Screenshot

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has released an update for its report, Medical Debt in LA County: Baseline Report and Action Plan, which found that total medical debt burden now exceeds $2.9 billion with an approximate $300 million increase from 2021 to 2022.

Medical debt continues to affect approximately 1 in 10 adults in LA County in 2022, similar to the prevalence of major health conditions such as asthma and diabetes.

Insurance Expansion Failed to Curb Debt

With expanding insurance coverage and the Public Health Emergency protections for COVID-19, the percentage of uninsured residents dropped by approximately 13% from 2021 to 2022. However, during the same time period, medical debt still increased, indicating that insurance expansion, while important for healthcare access, has not fully addressed the underlying factors contributing to medical debt.

Mirroring trends observed during COVID-19, medical debt has disproportionately impacted vulnerable groups. Latino adults (12.0%), Black adults (11.0%), and American Indian/Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and multiracial adults (11.3%) were more burdened than White (8.2%) and Asian (6.5%) adults. Adults in households with incomes below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) (12.2%), from 100-199% FPL (13.3%), and from 200-299% FPL (13.0%), were more burdened by medical debt than those in households with incomes at 300% or more of the FPL (7.5%). In 2022, 300% of the Federal Poverty Level for a family of 4 was $83,250.

Additionally, Medi-Cal recipients were approximately twice as likely to have medical debt than those on Medicare. More than 25% of uninsured adults experience medical debt and were over eight times more likely to be burdened by medical debt than those with Medicare.

Detrimental Effects on Health and Well-being

Medical debt remains a priority public health issue, as medical debt impeded patients’ ability to access necessary care and treatment, creating a cycle of health and financial hardship. Adults with medical debt were over three times more likely to skip or delay needed healthcare, and approximately three and a half times more likely to delay or not pick up prescriptions compared to those who were not burdened with medical debt. Additionally, adults with medical debt burden were almost two and a half times more likely to experience food insecurity and over 3 times more likely to experience housing instability.

“Financial security is a key social determinant of health and medical debt erodes a person’s ability to take care of their financial and physical health. The Department of Public Health is working with partners across the county to advance solutions to this distressing issue,” said Barbara Ferrer, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.Ed., Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “Our coalition of community organizations, hospitals and healthcare plans developed a comprehensive plan, and with leadership from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, we are working together to strengthen protections for health care consumers.”

Strengthening Protections for Health Care Consumers 

On October 3, 2023, the Board of Supervisors passed a motion recognizing the impact medical debt has on County residents that calls for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, working with coalition members and the Departments of Health Services, Mental Health, Consumer and Business Affairs, Public Social Services, and Economic Opportunity, County Counsel, and the Chief Executive Office (CEO), to take multiple actions to better understand the extent of medical debt challenges and design solutions to reduce financial hardships.

The following actions will be taken in response to the motion: 

  • Public Health will draft an ordinance to gather data on LA County hospital debt collection and financial assistance activities to highlight hospital best practices.
  • Public Health will collaborate with Consumer and Business Affairs to identify policies, practices, and programs to prevent medical debt.
  • Public Health will work with the CEO to assess the feasibility for retiring medical debt with funding sources, whether government or philanthropic, similar to programs in Cook County (IL) and New York City.
  • In consultation with Public Health and partner County agencies, the CEO Office of Legislative Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations will advocate for policy changes that will improve consumer protections and mitigate medical debt.

Data Source

This analysis used data from the 2017-2022 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the nation’s largest state-level health survey conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles. Most of the analyses were based on 2019-2022 survey responses from a representative sample of 18,002 adults (18+) in Los Angeles County who were asked if they have had problems paying medical bills for themselves or their household members in the past 12 months. 

To view the update and the original report online, visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/hccp/medicalDebt/

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New on the LA County Channel

You can watch on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here

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New on the County Channel

On the latest episode of ‘One on One’ LA County Library Director Skye Patrick explores all the services the library has to offer and touches on the controversies around banned books and Drag Queen Story Hour.

You can watch more stories like this on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here.

In Case You Missed It

Claim Your Cash Pilot Program

Every year, LA County families miss out on $500 million in tax credits. But this tax season, the Claim Your Cash LA pilot will make it easier for families to claim the cash they need like the CalEITC and Youth Child Tax Credit. To learn more about this program, schedule a free tax prep appointment, and claim your cash, visit ClaimYourCashLA.com

At Your Service

Make Your Plan to Vote By Mail

The March 5th Presidential Primary Election is quickly approaching and we want to make sure you’re ready to make your voice heard. This year, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk has made it easier than ever to be a voter.

Skip the lines and make your plan to Vote by Mail today.

It’s fast, easy, and convenient to Vote by Mail:

  1. Register to vote by February 20th to receive your Vote by Mail ballot. Have you moved? Are you new to L.A. County? Will this be your first time voting? Update your voter registration here.
  2. Drop your ballot off in the mail or at an Official Ballot Drop Box. Look out for your ballot in the mail. When you receive it, fill it in, sign it, and drop it off at a mailbox on your way to work, on your daily walk, or when dropping the kids off at school. You can also drop it off at any Ballot Drop Box near you.
  3. Securely track your ballot with the Where’s My Ballot? tool. Hesitating to Vote by Mail because you want to make sure your vote is counted? The Where’s My Ballot? tool will maintain your privacy and track your ballot every step of the way. Track your ballot here.

When you Vote by Mail, you ensure that work, school, long lines, or a bad commute on Election Day won’t stop your ballot from being counted. Make your plan to vote today!

Out and About

Celebrating Lunar New Year

LA County is celebrating Lunar New Year with a number of community events and programs! Visit LACounty.gov to find events, programming and resources that are available for you to access.

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The Sixth Street Viaduct. (Los Angeles County / Mayra Vasquez)

Click here to access more photos of LA County in action.

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Los Angeles County

New on the LA County Channel

You can watch on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

New on the County Channel

Cruella Brazil brought her performance magic to the West Hollywood Library Drag Story Hour to inspire kids to read and bring some fun for the entire family.

You can watch more stories like this on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here.

In Case You Missed It

TODAY – Rental Housing Habitability Program

Join the LA County Department of Public Health and the LA County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs TONIGHT at 6pm for a virtual stakeholder meeting to inform residents about the proposed components of the Rental Housing Habitability Program and receive feedback. The meeting will be presented with simultaneous Spanish translation.

Learn more here

At Your Service

Free Pet Wellness Clinic

The Department of Animal Care and Control will be hosting a Vet@thePark Free Wellness Clinic on Sunday, January 28, 2024, from 9am-1pm.

The event will take place at Artesia Park located at 18750 Clarkdale Avenue, Artesia, CA 90701. Walk-ins are allowed as time permits on a first-come, first-served basis.

Out and About

Smarty Pants Storytime Events

Let’s get ready for school! Enjoy books, songs, rhymes, and movement while learning school readiness skills and having fun. For ages 2 – 5 with their parent or caregiver.

For more information, or to find a storytime near you, click here.

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Los Angeles County / Mayra Vasquez

Live Animal Program at the Natural History Museum.

Click here to access more photos of LA County in action.

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Los Angeles County

Casa Del Zuma, addressing the housing crisis for Trans Angelenos

The housing crisis in LA has disproportionately affected vulnerable communities, & trans women often face complex barriers to housing

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Christina Munguia, a trans Clinical Social Worker, is working tirelessly to support trans women facing homelessness in Los Angeles County. (Photo Credit: Christina Munguia)

LOS ANGELES – To address the housing crisis in the city, Christina Munguia, a transgender Clinical Social Worker, is working tirelessly to support transgender women facing homelessness. Munguia is the first transgender individual accepted into the USC Suzanne Dworack-Peck School of Social Work.

Munguia’s focus is on a unique housing initiative named “Casa de Zulma,” nestled in an undisclosed location in downtown Los Angeles. This innovative project is the first-ever publicly funded Enhanced Bridge Housing for transgender women in Los Angeles County, brought to fruition by Special Service for Groups, Inc. (SSG) through its divisions APAIT and HOPICS.

APAIT, established in 1987, is a prominent AIDS service organization dedicated to advocating, educating, and promoting optimal health for vulnerable communities, particularly Asian and Pacific Islanders. Originating as a grassroots initiative, APAIT has evolved into a comprehensive provider of behavioral health services, housing support, and HIV/AIDS assistance across Los Angeles and Orange counties. Grounded in core values of compassion, commitment, and integrity, APAIT’s mission is to positively impact the quality of life for those facing behavioral health challenges, housing insecurity, and the risk of HIV/AIDS.

The Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System (HOPICS) is a Division of Special Service for Groups. HOPICS, a multi-service agency, has been serving vulnerable men, women, and children since 1988 in Service Planning Area 6 (SPA 6), which includes South Los Angeles, Compton, Lynwood, and Paramount. Recognized as one of the largest housing and homeless service agencies in Los Angeles County, HOPICS employs a client-centered “whatever it takes” approach to provide innovative social services, emphasizing behavioral health and housing stability.

The housing crisis in Los Angeles has disproportionately affected vulnerable communities, and transgender women often face complex barriers to housing due to societal transphobia and intersecting challenges such as sexism, racism.

Munguia told the Blade that does not specifically cater to transgender residents poses serious threats to transgender women seeking shelter.

“These women are often placed in the men’s section,” Munguia said, explaining that this placement puts them at greater risk of sexual assault and battery. “Then, sometimes when they are placed with the women, the cisgender women do not approve of having them in their section. So they find themselves in a limbo.”  

Casa de Zulma aims to address these issues by providing a safe and affirming space for transgender women.

Jazzmun Crayton, Health & Policy Coordinator at APAIT/SSG, emphasizes the impact of poverty on the transgender community, leading to increased vulnerability to violence, homelessness, substance abuse, and mental illness. The agency secured funding from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to tackle the evolving needs of the communities they serve.

Veronica Lewis, Director of HOPICS/SSG, emphasizes the importance of creating intentional efforts from the public sector to provide safe spaces for vulnerable populations. Casa de Zulma not only offers space for up to 20 transgender women but also provides trauma-informed care, including behavioral health services and intensive case management with the goal of linkage to permanent supportive housing.

The project is named after Zulma Velasquez, a former APAIT staff member and consumer who dedicated her life to building community and providing a safe space for queer and trans individuals. Speakers at the unveiling event in 2019 included Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council President Herb Wesson, and City Council Member Mitch O’Farrell, showcasing the community-wide support for this critical initiative.

Christina Munguia’s recalled a particularly meaningful project wherein she helped rehabilitate a group of 5 transgender refugees who escaped persecution in their countries due to their sexual identities. Munguia and APAIT were able to provide these refugees with housing, documentation, and comprehensive medical and mental health support – an example of the success Munguia aims for with all of her clients. 

Casa de Zulma stands as a testament to the commitment of individuals like Christina Munguia and organizations like APAIT/SSG and HOPICS to advocate, educate, and achieve optimal health and well-being for vulnerable communities in Los Angeles. As the city grapples with a housing crisis, Casa de Zulma emerges as a beacon of hope, offering not just shelter but a supportive environment that empowers and uplifts transgender women in their journey towards stability and well-being.

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Los Angeles County

New on the LA County Channel

You can watch on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

New on the County Channel

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is removing approximately one hundred Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of sediment from Marina del Rey’s harbor, which has made navigating the main channel difficult for boaters and first responders.

You can watch more stories like this on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here.

In Case You Missed It

Human Trafficking Awareness – Know to Say No

It’s important to know the signs of human trafficking because it can help prevent this terrible crime. Exploiters often use tricks like giving gifts and making false promises to lure people into dangerous situations.

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if someone is in trouble because the signs might seem like normal teenage behavior. But if you notice something unusual or suspicious, it’s important to speak up and get help.

Exploiters who do this often work slowly and carefully, so it’s important to pay attention to the warning signs. They might also try to use kids to recruit their friends into bad situations, so it’s important to be aware of what’s going on with the people around you.

By knowing the signs of human trafficking, you can help keep yourself and your community safe. Remember, if you see something, say something.

Learn more at KnowToSayNo.com.

At Your Service

Thursday Trainings for Small Businesses

Join the LA County Office of Small Business team every 3rd Thursday of the month for training, updates on programs, resources, live Q&A and provide feedback along the way! This month’s discussion will be on Local Small Business Enterprise Certification. 

To learn more about Thursday Trainings with OSB, or to reserve your spot for the next event, click here

Out and About

Rise, Reclaim, Restore Youth Mental Health Summits

Teens are invited to join the LA County Department of Public Health at the Rise, Reclaim, Restore Youth Mental Health Summit. Through engaging workshops and interactive activities, these summits will equip young people with the tools to navigate their mental well-being, support their friends, and become leaders in their schools. Together, we will explore strategies for self-care, coping mechanisms, and building resilience.

Youth who attend will be eligible for raffle prizes, freebies, and community service hours! Click here to learn more.

Photo Finish

Los Angeles County / Mayra Vasquez

Marina Del Rey – explore the marina and plan your next trip.

Click here to access more photos of LA County in action.

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