Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Constance Farrell
City of SM 

Santa Monica City Council Approves Homeless Action Plan to Reduce Problem

Homelessness is up by 23 percent throughout Los Angeles County in 2017

 

December 4, 2017

The Onion ("Gestation 7") undergoes repairs and rehabilitation. The homeless occupy city parks, such as Palisades Park.

At its meeting last night, November 28, 2017, the Santa Monica City Council unanimously voted to approve a Homeless Strategic Goal Action Plan and a series of new investments included in the plan to address homelessness. Recommendations came as part of staff's Annual Homelessness Report to Council at a time when homelessness is up by 23 percent throughout Los Angeles County in 2017.

"Homelessness is the biggest issue in front of us. People are suffering on our streets and throughout the county in unprecedented numbers," said Mayor Ted Winterer. "We want the community to know that we understand the daily impacts and we are deeply invested in proactive and coordinated engagement to see change in our neighborhoods and public spaces."

The City is maximizing the use of existing resources and on October 24, 2017, Council authorized $1.4 million in one-time funds to support the roll out of new investments identified through the Action Plan. The plan includes coordinated, proactive outreach approaches with new, multidisciplinary outreach teams, place-based engagement strategies and additional resources at the Santa Monica Public Library. Here's a look at some of the concepts included in the Action Plan approved by Council:

New coordinated, proactive outreach teams to connect homeless individuals to services

· Place-based engagement by 10-12 new outreach workers, starting with a C3 homeless outreach team.

· Santa Monica Police Department is enhancing officer training so the entire department is focused on proactive engagement, re-deploying existing officers to high-impact areas and expanding the Homeless Liaison Program (HLP) team.

Ensure effective, safe and respectful use of the Library

· Two additional Library Services Officers will be funded for an 18-month limited term pilot.

· A full-time social worker will be funded for a 12-month pilot to conduct homeless outreach and train staff.

· Regular Pop-up Resource Fairs are bringing local and regional agencies to the Library.

Increase availability of housing and homeless prevention

· Housing staff recommend use of locally allocated federal funds to support rehabilitation of a Venice supportive housing development in exchange for three units being dedicated to Santa Monica homeless residents.

· Preventing homelessness among existing residents through flexible funding for eviction prevention, housing rights education and protection, tenant harassment and eviction defense through Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and the Senior Housing Taskforce to prevent vulnerable low-income seniors from losing housing.

Activate city and community stakeholders to collectively address homelessness

· The City is investing in a Senior Advisor on Homelessness who will actively engage with the growing number of county and regional partners in ever-accelerating homeless efforts. The Senior Advisor will ensure the City is participating in policy and resource discussions regionally, while facilitating coordination across City departments.

· The City secured $70,000 in LA County Measure H funds, through United Way of Greater Los Angeles, to design a flexible training curriculum for City staff, businesses and residents to safely and effectively interact with homeless neighbors.

"We are committing to unprecedented coordination and proactive engagement to do everything we can to connect homeless individuals with the services and interventions needed to become stable," said City Manager Rick Cole. "To deal effectively and humanely with this regional crisis and keep our city safe, we need the entire community to participate in this effort in new and creative ways."

The success of these new investments will be regularly monitored through the City's performance management system or "SaMoStat" process to do more of what works and change what doesn't.

Background on the City's Approach to Addressing Homelessness

The City's nationally recognized best-practice approach to focusing services on the most vulnerable maintained stable homeless count results in Santa Monica from 2010 to 2016. In 2017 however, the community documented a 26% increase in homelessness at the annual point-in-time count, bringing the local count total to 921 people. This growth was in step with a 23% region-wide increase, bringing the LA County homeless tally to 57,794 people.

The City has a long history of coordination and innovation to help the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness off the streets and into permanent housing. The City's local homeless service system, parallels the regional model, and consists of three parts: (1) outreach, (2) care management and supportive services, and (3) permanent housing. To resolve homelessness among known vulnerable homeless individuals, the City has invested heavily in supportive services, permanent supportive housing and regional affordable housing developments.

In 2015, Council identified that continued local success would be contingent on broadening participation in regional partnerships to increase capacity of the Los Angeles homeless service system to address homelessness. Council established taking a leadership role in regional efforts to address homelessness as a top five Strategic Goal.

 
 

Reader Comments
(2)

jiveinthe415 writes:

I applaud the Santa Monica City Council for adopting and implementing their Homeless Action Plan. A reader comment by 'enforcethelaw' calls the Council's plan benign and useless, because they purport that homeless people are crazy, lawless, drug addicts, who should be locked up and put in jail. Homelessness is a very serious problem confronting our cities and towns across the country. We don't have a one-size fits all prescription to address homelessness and society's related ills, and we won't find a workable solution until we fully embrace our American values. Every American citizen should be entitled to affordable healthcare and affordable housing. Until we acknowledge and fully support these basic human rights, homelessness will continue to frustrate taxpayers and politicians alike. 'Enforcethelaw' endorses fascism, and the majority rejects it. Resist. Roy Steele

enforcethelaw writes:

This is a pathetic standard ineffective, albeit politically correct, response. Facts: 98% of the homeless do not want housing/shelter (the police know this). 80% have criminal records and/or substance abuse issues and/or psychiatric issues. 20% down on their luck need/want seek help but are compromised because of the 80% who give the 20% a bad name. 100% have the same rights we all do. Approx 250 hard working Santa Monica police officers. Approx 1000 homeless, 800 of which are not reasonable. And the city comes up with this benign, passive useless plan? Lock up the crazies/druggies and otherwise use the PC funds to 1. Pay to send them out of town, far away, by sundown! 2. Reapply the balance funds to assist the 20% who want to and are capable of turning their lives around. 3. Embolden and encourage the police to do their job, arrest the crazies, put them in holding cells and subject them to the same bail/due process to which we all are held accountable and then send them far away.

 
 
 

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