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Former County Supervisor Tapped for Homeless Czar

By Olin Ericksen and Gene Williams
Staff Writers

December 8 -- Barring any surprising turn of events, Santa Monica’s first Homeless Czar will be approved next week.

Ed Edelman, a former Los Angeles County Supervisor and a long time advocate of regional social services, is expected to get the nod when the City Council meets Tuesday.

A 40-year political veteran and former RAND senior public policy fellow, Edelman is expected to bring the kind of “high level leadership” the City has been looking for to respond to the region’s homeless issues, City officials said in a press release Monday.

Under a one-year contract as the City’s chief Homeless Liaison, he is expected to start work after the holidays. The job pays $200,000.

Edelman was recommended for the post by out-going City Manager Susan McCarthy.

“The key things Mr. Edelman will bring to this engagement,” McCarthy stated in a press release Monday, “are credibility and contacts in the mental health field, with the County Sheriff, with elected and appointed officials region-wide and with members of the judiciary.”

In the same press release, Edelman called the assignment “challenging” but said he is “encouraged by the work in progress in Santa Monica” and the “recent attention to the issue” by the City and County of Los Angeles.

“We have a unique opportunity at this time to make a real impact on the problems of the homeless and the effects of homelessness in Santa Monica and countywide,” said Edelman, who sees himself as a coalition builder.

It is expected that Edelman will spearhead the effort for establishing a mental health court, an idea which is getting serious attention from City officials, non-profit groups, law enforcement and area judges.

"This discussion is just happening now, so he's coming in at a great time,"
Mona Miyasato, the City’s acting human services manager, told the Lookout.

Describing the court as a "great solution" to Santa Monica's homeless
problem, she said the mental health court would "mimic the drug court, where
those people who have mental illness would receive the attention they need,"
as oppossed to just being thrown into the general justice system.

Miyasato said that she and the four-member City team known as the homeless unit have not met Edelman, but they are looking forward to working with him.

"I know him by reputation and we're excited they found someone of his
stature and reputation," Miyasato said.

Miyasato said that Edelman will act as a consultant hired by the City
and report directly to the incoming City Manager Lamont Ewell, who will coordinate work with her department.

Miyasato, whose department works on the nuts-and-bolts of homeless issues, said she has “no problem” with the arrangement.

"He'll be in charge of the huge regional issues, like getting backing from
surrounding city and county officials,"

As L.A. County Supervisor from 1974-1994, Edelman was responsible for creating the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), which brought the city and county working more closely together on homeless problems, and has helped establish detox and mental health programs countywide – including the Skid Row Mental Health Center.

In addition to serving as a county supervisor, he was also on the Los Angeles
City Council from 1965 to 1974 and held many intergovernmental posts including chairing the Metropolitan Transit Board as well as the Countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee, which he founded.

Since November 22 when Ewell was wooed away from San Diego to take over as Santa Monica’s next city manger, Edelman’s appointment is the second time in as many weeks that Santa Monica has gone outside itself to fill top posts.

Edelman lives in Los Angeles.

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