LA County homeless agency picks new CEO

Va Lecia Adams Kellum to head the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority

Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority's Va Lecia Adams Kellum
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority's Va Lecia Adams Kellum (Housing California, Getty)

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has hired a new czar on homelessness. Her starting pay: $430,000 a year.

The joint powers agency in charge of conducting the regional homeless count appointed Va Lecia Adams Kellum as CEO, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. She starts in March.

Following a revolving door of managers, Adams Kellum will replace Executive Director Heidi Marston, who led the agency for two years until she resigned last April over a dispute with a committee of the LAHSA Commission, which hired Adams Kellum.

Marston was criticized for upping the salaries of the 196 lowest-paid employees to $50,000 a year from as low as $33,000. She wrote a five-page resignation letter outlining the dispute and spelling out bureaucratic roadblocks to house the homeless.

Adams Kellum will leave her job as CEO of St. Joseph Center, a Venice-based social service agency that offers outreach services and housing to homeless residents.

She was a member of Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass’ transition team and was instrumental in placing 213 homeless residents into housing in Venice, part of Bass’ Inside Safe program.

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On Feb. 5, she’ll join the Bass administration to help lead the mayor’s Inside Safe program to move people off the streets and end homeless encampments.

In March, she’ll take the reins as CEO at LAHSA, the $800 million regional planning body set up decades ago by the county and City of Los Angeles to coordinate housing and services through a Continuum of Care for homeless people.

Adams Kellum’s appointment was favored by Bass, and by L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn and Supervisor and LAHSA Commissioner Lindsey Horvath. Hahn said hiring her was part of a rejiggering of LAHSA, and to lead a broad effort to house the county’s 69,000 homeless residents.

“What LAHSA has done and, frankly, what our county and the city have done so far to address the homelessness crisis has not worked,” Hahn said in a statement, adding that Adams Kellum “is someone who has risen to meet the homelessness crisis in a bold way.”

At some point, however, Adams Kellum may find herself out of a job, as some critics have called for a break-up of a joint powers agency many see as ineffective in addressing homelessness.

— Dana Bartholomew

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