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

Homeless Count Justifies Misuse of Public Funds by OPCC

City Develops Allergy to Reviewing Quality of Homeless Services


March 11, 2018

Staff cars block the only entrance/exit of an OPCC facility causing a safety hazard for 70 residents

The homeless count is a cause for celebration for homeless services providers because it gives them an idea of how much public funding they will be receiving to sustain themselves for another year.

Every year the City counts its unhoused residents, and based on those numbers and other statistics disburses about $1.6M in taxpayer dollars to its main homeless services provider, OPCC. This is a great deal for OPCC because the public funding flows to them without any accountability measures built into the grant agreement. The unfortunate consequence is that many of this provider's clients will tell you that OPCC actually stands for "Oppressing People, Collecting Cash."

The Santa Monica City Council and City staff have heard about the abuses of homeless individuals by OPCC for at least two years now. These concerns have also been presented to three city commissions: Disabilities, Housing and Social Services. All these commissions washed their hands of the OPCC concerns. The City Attorney expressly advised the Social Services Commission to forego agendizing the OPCC concerns - in an apparent attempt to prevent the OPCC scandal from growing. This is an ongoing effort at cover up. Last year two consumer complaints were filed by Concerned Citizens with the City Attorney's Office and the response produced by the City Attorney can only be described as blatant whitewash.

Why would the City Attorney, City Council, city commissions, Human Services Division, and City Manager be so allergic to the idea of properly evaluating the OPCC concerns? Perhaps it is because the City is complicit in enabling and funding a provider of substandard homeless services, who has engaged in unlawful operations for years. For the City, keeping this misuse of public funding under wraps is more important than the safety, wellbeing and civil rights of its homeless population.

Some of the OPCC programs in Santa Monica are partially funded by LAHSA - the joint Los Angeles City and County Homeless Services Authority.

LAHSA's most recent monitoring review of OPCC is alarming. The findings include unmet performance targets, noncompliance with contract provisions, insufficient documentation of reported outcomes, insufficient documentation of homelessness, failure to follow internal controls, inadequate written policies and procedures, under utilization of program funding, and failure to utilize program funds in accordance with the contract budget. Even more alarmingly, many of these findings are repeat ones from the prior year.

Lifestyle Crime: Homeless man sleeps between garbage cans

Despite the evidence of unlawful operations, poor evaluation results by LAHSA, and the concerns about non-functioning grievance procedure, civil rights violations, abuse and neglect by untrained staff, the City not only stands by OPCC and puts a lid on any effort to publicly review this provider's programs, the City appointed OPCC Executive Director John Maceri, as a co-Chair of its Steering Committee on Homelessness. One can only wonder where Mr. Maceri is going to steer us to, considering his questionable stewardship of OPCC and apparent dislike for the law.

If you read the letters that current OPCC clients wrote to the editor of the Santa Monica Observer a couple weeks ago, you know that under Mr. Maceri's management, OPCC staff puts a female client suffering from severe night terrors on the cold patio for the night-- all while collecting public funding for this client. This is just one example of the inhumane treatment of an ill, unhoused resident that the supposedly progressive City of Santa Monica not only condones but funds. It appears that this client is just another statistic caught up in the shell game this City and OPCC engage in. Until next year, long live the homeless count!


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