By Rahimah Shah-Fiddmont, Development Associate & Rice Paper Editor

On February 7th, 2023, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Jeff Olivet, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness representing President Biden visited AADAP’s Corporate Office for a press conference and roundtable meeting to understand the homeless issue in Los Angeles. Jeff Olivet commented, “I believe right down to my core that we can solve homelessness right here in Los Angeles and if we solve it here, we can solve it anywhere.” Bass emphasized that that success can be found by the alignment of all forms of government.
Mayor Karen Bass approached Dean Nakanishi, CEO of AADAP, to host this round table meeting with managers, governmental officials, and special guests. This year at a White House meeting, Mayor Bass referred to L.A. as the “epicenter of that crisis,” and encouraged Olivet to include LA as a main part of focus to help reduce the nation’s homelessness by 25%. “Oftentimes, it’s not just an issue of resources. As I have said all along, if we do not address substance abuse and mental health, we are kidding ourselves in our ability to end homelessness in Los Angeles.” Bass insisted. “That is why we are at the Asian American Drug Abuse Program, because we wanted to highlight and emphasize the need to have substance abuse treatment as part of the continuum of care. To address this problem, we need to have a complete alignment of every level of government on levels of federal, state, county, and the city,” Bass said.

Special guests for the press conference included Dean Nakanishi, AADAP CEO; Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, CEO of Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LASHA); Mercedes Marquez, Chief of Housing and Homelessness in the Office of the Mayor and Maria Oliva, CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

This meeting gave AADAP, and other local substance abuse treatment centers a forum to discuss the difficulties of integrating treatment with the homeless population needs. This was a terrific opportunity for AADAP to meet the entire team of leaders from the Mayor’s Office, State and Federal level leaders.

We are so thankful to Mayor Karen Bass, who understands the value of community organizations that provide direct services and acknowledge that drug treatment services are vital. With her early work with Community Coalition, she recognizes that AADAP has provided needed drug rehabilitation services for the past 50 years. For change, it is important for our leaders to collectively understand the policies and regulations that impact organizations like AADAP, which stands strong to provide services.