A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

National Coalition for Housing Justice Letter to Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

Funders Together and members of the National Coalition for Housing Justice co-signed a letter to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors expressing concern over the nomination of Dr. Drew Pinsky to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Commission.


April 16, 2021

Dear Supervisors Solis, Mitchell, Kuehl, Hahn and Barger:

The National Coalition for Housing Justice (NCHJ) is a group of national organizations who have aligned behind seeking housing justice in order to end homelessness. We have come together to coordinate advocacy efforts, develop policy recommendations, and leverage our collective tools to garner the attention of both lawmakers and the public to meet that goal. Housing justice for us means guaranteeing opportunities for everyone in our country to have affordable, safe, accessible, stable housing through a racial justice approach.

It has come to our attention that Dr. Drew Pinsky has been nominated to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Commission. While we do not often weigh in on local issues, the Los Angeles Continuum of Care (CoC) and LAHSA hold an important place in the homelessness field as the second largest CoC in the nation. Appointing a celebrity who is unqualified and misinformed to a position that makes critical decisions on homelessness policy and program design is both dangerous and alarming.

We are deeply disappointed that this nomination is moving forward, especially given that it is in direct conflict with the governance work currently underway and harms the organization’s pursuit of goals related to racial justice and equity. 

Specifically, we are concerned about Dr. Pinsky’s positions on key policies and practices, as well as his disregard for data and evidence. Some relevant examples include:

  • Dr. Pinsky consistently ignores the structural issues that lead to homelessness, choosing instead to blame homelessness on homeless people. Against all evidence, Dr. Drew does not believe that the housing crisis - and the fundamental mismatch between incomes and housing costs - is a primary driver of homelessness. He has called the housing crisis and evidence-based, proven solutions like Housing First a hoax
    • According to research from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there are fewer than four homes affordable and available for every ten extremely low-income households. And there is not enough from the federal government: despite the need, just one in four eligible households receives any housing assistance because of chronic underfunding. Other factors that contribute to homelessness include chronic health conditions, domestic violence, and systemic inequality.
    • Housing First is a proven model for addressing homelessness that prioritizes access to permanent, stable housing. Housing First recognizes that stable housing is a prerequisite for effective psychiatric and substance abuse treatment and for improving quality of life. Once stably housed, individuals are better able to take advantage of wrap-around services – to help support housing stability, employment, and recovery. Without stable housing, attaining these goals becomes much more difficult.
  • He does not support patient choice for mental health and substance use treatment, and instead favors stringent and broad institutionalization policies. In fact, he has called advocates for patient choice “murderers.” 
  • Dr. Pinsky advocates for criminalizing homelessness, rather than real solutions. He has endorsed failed models - like San Antonio’s Haven for Hope - that use the threat of jail to force people into a shelter or campus.  Criminalization policies make the problem of homelessness worse. When homeless people are saddled with cripplingly high fines and fees for minor traffic tickets or incarcerated for having to live outdoors, it hurts their employment and housing options, access to education, family stability, and communities. Criminalization is expensive, ineffective, and violates individuals’ constitutional rights. Dr. Drew’s positions run contrary to Los Angeles stated goals to reinvest resources from criminalization and enforcement to community investments that address racial inequities.
  • Dr. Pinsky has promoted anti-immigrant rhetoric, claiming “a large immigrant population coming in carrying parasites and tuberculosis” has contributed to public health challenges in homeless encampments. Dehumanizing language like this has contributed to the recent rise in anti-AAPI violence and has no origin in fact. He also refers to people experiencing homelessness as “transients.”

We urge you to identify a qualified and compassionate candidate for this important role, and to   withdraw or vote down the nomination of Dr. Drew Pinsky.


Members of the National Coalition for Housing Justice

A Way Home America


Funders Together to End Homelessness 

National Alliance to End Homelessness 

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans 

National Health Care for the Homeless Council 

National Homelessness Law Center 

National Innovation Service 

National Low Income Housing Coalition 

True Colors United 

Youth Collaboratory


Showing 1 reaction

  • Stephanie Chan
    published this page in Blog 2021-04-19 08:21:10 -0400

We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or email.