LOS ANGELES - In a Feb. 23 interview on Good Day LA, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Executive Director Heidi Marston said of the homeless, "These are humans. They are people who have been failed by our systems over and over. They are people who have tried to get up and been cut down."
Marston has been a strong advocate for the homeless, so it came to many as a big surprise when she resigned in a fairly public way. Posting an op-Ed on her Medium.com, resigning to the board, and sending out tweets announcing she's leaving LAHSA.
Andy Bales who heads up Union Rescue Mission Downtown talked to her on the phone after the posted announcement. They knew each other well. He says, "I thought maybe I could convince her to take a couple weeks off as I would do if I were resigning. Take a couple weeks off and make a different decision but she made up her mind."
In her op-Ed, Marston said, "Homelessness is a scar on the face of our nation. Power and funding along control homelessness in our current system, organizations like the one I lead... are not given control of regulatory policy decisions, service providers remain underfunded, and dedicated front-line employees of non-profit organizations and government entities are hamstrung by rules, red tape, and bureaucracy. We are denying power and funding to the very entities tasked with finding and implementing solutions."
"The employees of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority should not make so little that they qualify for homeless services themselves," Marston added.
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Then There's Jennifer Dietz CEO of homeless agency PATH. The resignation surprised her. She says Marston hasn't been in the position very long. She added, "I think when you've worked in this field for a really long time you see the funding is really based on political will. And, what we need to do is continue funding solutions that work not make changes based on whats happening today or tomorrow… really evidenced based solution.
She says LAHSA has been tasked with being a grant funder and a system leader and to do that for so many of our communities led by so many public officials who have a say Dietz says, "I think it's hard to wear so many different hats and have so many different bosses for lack of a better term because then I think its really hard to be successful."
LAHSA says an interim replacement will be chosen soon.