(Los Angeles) – State Senator Gilbert Cedillo, Shelter Partnership, and Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich gathered atop the Union Rescue Mission in the early morning sun to announce the new city attorney’s support for SB 324 and urged the Governor to sign the bill.
SB 324 would enable confiscated counterfeit goods to be donated to non-profits serving families and individuals experiencing homelessness or economic hardship. Shelter Partnership approached Cedillo, who has authored several bills on homelessness issues, with an opportunity to repurpose the goods. Under current law upon conviction or close of the case all counterfeit items are destroyed by incineration or dumped into landfills. Ruth Schwartz, Executive Director of Shelter Partnership which runs a 108,000 sq. foot clearinghouse of donated goods that are distributed to local service provides, and the attorney responsible for the Identity Theft and Fraud Unit in the Office of the City Attorney worked with Cedillo to draft the language of the bill. Provisions were made in the bill to protect intellectual property rights and electronics so items such as DVDs and televisions would not be included. SB 324 does enable the prosecuting attorney to ask the judge to permit a trademark owner to donate the goods rather than destroying items at the close of a case.
“Each year, law enforcement agencies seize millions of dollars in counterfeit merchandise. And make no mistake – we are fully committed to aggressively prosecuting those who illegally profit from prated trademarks. Yet in almost all of those cases, the merchandise seized is destroyed by court order. I am proud to stand here with my friend Gil Cedillo and Downtown LA’s hard-working service providers in support of good common-sense legislation,” remarked Trutanich.
The numbers of families and individuals encountering homelessness is equally concerning. At the press conference Rev. Andy Bales, the CEO of Union Rescue Mission, shared stories from the past year on the “tsunami” of people seeking assistance at the facility. Of the 223 families seeking shelter at URM from January through August of this year, 52.4% were experiencing homelessness for first time; 84.1% reported receiving benefits of some sort. The primary causes leading to homelessness were financial hardship, eviction, or job loss.
“The numbers and increases are incredible, but the picture of the many families living in tent like structures, called EDARS, in our chapel, community rooms, and conference rooms is an even more amazing sight to behold. The volume of people who get in line for one of our nine meals per day is also staggering,” shared the Reverend. “We need to recommit ourselves to the issue of homelessness and continuously push for creative options to help families and individuals stay in their homes or quickly recover; SB 324 is one of those options. I urge the Governor to sign this bill.”
“I am honored to have the support of the city’s new City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and appreciate the significant contributions the office has made to SB 324 over the past year. I am also grateful to partner with Shelter Partnership, URM, and the other service providers to bring about the basic, and more impertinently the systemic changes, needed to end homelessness. I hope the Governor will sign the bill and put good intentions to work.”