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December 6
1864 - Actor William S. Hart born in Newburgh, New York [Hart Index]
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| Friday, Jun 7, 2019
Deputy Public Defender Judith Johnson stands in front of one of the "help squad" vans assisting people at a homeless encampment.
Deputy Public Defender Judith Johnson stands in front of one of the "help squad" vans assisting people at a homeless encampment.

 

The man with eyes that revealed his painful past stood amid a crowded homeless encampment on S. Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, talking to an LA County deputy public defender.

The LA County Public Defender’s Homeless Outreach Unit is setting the stage for his rebound.

An owner of two businesses — home repair and property management — the man was the sole survivor in a horrendous car crash caused by a drunken driver. He lost chunks of muscle from his back and thighs and was hospitalized for six months, two in a coma.

He lifted his shirt to prove his injuries, exposing a massive scar that covered his lower back. Losing his businesses and home pushed him to the streets. A single father, his son went to relatives.

Sober for five months, he is physically and mentally ready to start over. While at a community-based organization located near a homeless encampment, he saw the Public Defender’s brightly colored “help squad” van and took a business card from one of the attorneys.

He followed up and met with Deputy Public Defender Gil Mares to begin the process of expunging his record. He said he was eager to return to the workforce.

Related: LA County Homelessness Up 12%

“I want to get the expungements so I can get my license back and maybe drive for a living,” the man said. “I can no longer do repairs or property management because of my injuries. I’m so grateful for the homeless expungement program. They reach out to people who would not know this program existed.”

Head Deputy Justine Esack, who oversees the Homeless Unit, said the man was exactly the kind of client who can benefit from the services.

“The people we serve have had mental health and medical help and other services from community-based organizations, so they’re ready to deal with their criminal records,” Esack said. “They need record clearing because they’re looking for permanent housing and jobs. They’re still homeless but they’ve dealt with some of their demons.”

Launched in January 2018 with Measure H funds, the homeless outreach team works with various CBOs and drives their two vans and SUV to homeless encampments to start the expungement process for people living there.

The three deputy public defenders, three paralegals and three secretaries work with CBOs to identify those who are homeless but have received some mental and medical care preparing them to reenter society.

“What we don’t do is drive our van up to somebody’s tent, knock on the tent door and say, ‘Hey, do you want an expungement?’” Esack said. “We want to show our clients the right kind of care and respect.”

They see the homeless team after they address some of their issues and are ready to “get down to the nitty-gritty of life,” she said.

“They’re ready at that point to present themselves back to the world again. And that’s where we step in.”

Mares said he believed that the man he was helping was on his way to reentering society. He will be added to the 2,102 people experiencing homelessness the unit has assisted from its inception through March 2019.

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LOS ANGELES COUNTY HEADLINES
Friday, Dec 6, 2019
For each of the past six years, developers planning to build a senior condo complex near Towsley Canyon on The Old Road have asked regional planners for more time to keep the project alive, and on Tuesday they’ll ask again.
Thursday, Dec 5, 2019
Because of the recent rainfall, Los Angeles County Health Officer, Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, is cautioning residents who are planning to visit Los Angeles County beaches to avoid swimming, surfing, and playing in ocean waters around discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers. Bacteria, chemicals, debris, trash, and other public health hazards from city streets and mountain areas are likely to contaminate ocean waters at and around these outlets after a rainfall.
Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger to improve access to mental health treatment in the county by adopting a two-year pilot program to procure up to 500 more beds for those in need of care.
Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019
The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles inspected pet stores on Tuesday for compliance with California laws regarding pet shops.
Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019
After more than two and a half years as the Santa Clarita Valley’s “top cop,” county officials confirmed Wednesday morning that SCV Sheriff’s Station Capt. Robert Lewis is being promoted again — to commander.

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