Last week, officials in Los Angeles County passed two significant protections for our homeless neighbors. Both were serendipitously passed on Giving Tuesday.

People experiencing homelessness are now one step closer to being protected by California’s hate crime laws. Says Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, California’s legislation “defines a hate crime as a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of the perceived characteristics of the victim.” On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution that acknowledged housing status as such a characteristic, and started the process for homeless neighbors to undergo consideration to be added to the list of those protected under the state’s hate crime law. The resolution came after a series of attacks in September, including the murders of four people in Downtown L.A. and Santa Monica.

In another unanimous decision, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors passed universal health and safety standards for homeless shelters throughout the County. Many of our homeless neighbors avoid shelters due to safety and sanitary concerns, including rats, roaches, bed bugs and mold. The proposal outlines a universal set of sanitary and operating standards for homeless shelters and provides for the hiring of four shelter-specific health inspectors who would perform audits three times annually. This would help to standardize existing auditing processes that are currently split across numerous organizations. It would also ensure that all shelters are being audited.

United Way of Greater Los Angeles works tirelessly to advocate for both immediate and long-term support for our homeless neighbors. We are thrilled to see these new protections, and will continue to support the passage of measures like these, in addition to larger-scale systemic housing solutions.