CITYWIDE — Flora Gil Krisiloff is no stranger to the intricacies of dealing with the mounting homeless problem in Santa Monica.
“I have served as (Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s) deputy on homelessness and mental health for over six years,” she said. “I’m very passionate about ending homelessness in L.A. County.”
Last month, Yaroslavsky appointed Krisiloff as a commissioner to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, a joint-powers authority between L.A. County and 85 of the 88 cities it holds.
Krisiloff replaced outgoing Commissioner Howard Katz, who served for 12 years, to represent the Westside, including Santa Monica, on the commission.
LAHSA brings in $70 million per year of federal money to fund programs within its continuum of care, a long-term plan to address the needs of the homeless in the region.
It’s the only agency that gets dollars specifically dedicated to helping the homeless.
Over the past six years with Yaroslavsky’s office, Krisiloff has had lots of practice putting the plan into action through initiatives she’s helped coordinate, but this will be a new experience.
“This gives me an opportunity to understand even more deeply how … that $70 million is being allocated, and what else we can do to make that pot of money be really efficient,” Krisiloff said.
Krisiloff holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing and a business degree from UCLA.
She entered the working world as a public health nurse driving a mobile health van up and down the Snake River in Idaho to migrant labor camps, before becoming a nurse in Compton.
After getting her business degree — “I got the MBA from UCLA to understand business and health care together,” she said — she took time off to raise her three sons.
Time off may not be the right phrase. She became heavily involved in their schools, focusing on land use and education issues.
When they had grown, Krisiloff returned to the working world, and began working for Yaroslavsky.
“This is really rewarding,” she said. “It draws from all the pieces of my background.”
Krisiloff characterizes homelessness as the most complicated issue that she’s worked in because many that are chronically homeless have seen their entire world collapse.
She saw this first hand when she helped coordinate Project 50, which took 50 chronically homeless individuals, gave them housing and easy access to medical and mental health services.
“The degree of disability struck me from working on Project 50,” she said.
Krisiloff has worked extensively with officials in the Santa Monica Department of Human Services to address homelessness within Yaroslavsky’s district.
“Santa Monica is a real model city, and is so dedicated to addressing homelessness,” Krisiloff said. “They put in a good amount of community funding.”
It’s no secret to Krisiloff, then, that City Hall and LAHSA have been on the outs in recent months over arguments about how much of that $70 million pot Santa Monica should receive.
The conflict stems from the fact that, by LAHSA’s calculations, Santa Monica is a wealthy community and should receive less funding.
Santa Monica officials respond that City Hall puts a great deal of money into homeless infrastructure, which also handles homeless from surrounding cities who don’t put the resources in to take care of the situation.
Krisiloff feels confident that she can help repair relations between the two organizations.
“I don’t think it’s insurmountable,” she said. “I think there are solutions, and there have been misunderstandings. The city of Santa Monica is really at a unique stage in terms of all the knowledge and infrastructure they’ve built to address homelessness. It’s different from other areas of the county that are just beginning to build infrastructure.”
Julie Rusk, human resources manager with City Hall, said that Krisiloff’s appointment was a positive step.
“We’re delighted that she’s going to be representing Yaroslavsky’s district as the LAHSA appointee,” Rusk said. “She understands the challenges that local communities face, and the strength of what we’ve put together here in Santa Monica, and she knows what’s needed to sustain that.”