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

By Larry Arnstein
Santa Monica 

OPCC Provides Wonderful Services for the Homeless Population in Santa Monica

A volunteer rebuts previous post at


December 8, 2017

Volunteers from Rodeo Realty serving meals to the homeless on December 12, 2016.

I have been volunteering for a couple of hours every Monday morning at the Access Center, operated by OPCC to serve the homeless population here, for the last 25 years.

Having read the article about OPCC by Mr. Louis, I think he must be living in some alternate universe.

Wherever that alternate universe may be, the charges he makes about the abuse and neglect of the homeless population by the staff of OPCC may have merit. In this universe, the one I'm living in and I think your readers live in also, there is nothing that he says that is even remotely true.

I have seen over decades the dedication and extraordinary abilities of the professional staff at the Access Center, doing whatever they can do with the limited resources available to them.

It is nothing short of amazing what they are able to do, the real help they are able to provide for those who seek help. I attended a City Council meeting many years ago at a time when the Access Center was being kicked out of the modest quarters they had, and seeking help from the city of Santa Monica in finding a new location, which they did find around the corner.

Speaking before the City Council were at least 30 or 40 clients who spoke about how the Access Center had provided them with crucial help they needed at a time when they were most vulnerable, and how with the help of the staff there, they had put their shattered lives together, found permanent affordable housing, employment, and whatever else they had been seeking.

I had assumed when I didn't see them coming back week after week that they had died or moved on. It never occurred to me that they had succeeded.

I have witnessed so many wonderful interactions between the staff at the Access Center and the homeless clients who come for a bag lunch and whatever help can be provided for them, that I can't recall all of them.

But this is the real Santa Monica I live in, on this planet. In the Alternate Santa Monica in the Alternate Universe that Mr. Louis inhabits, it may be that self-serving and/or incompetent staff members abuse or neglect the homeless population they are meant to serve. But not in the Santa Monica where I live, in this universe, on this Earth.

Larry Arnstein

Santa Monica, CA


Reader Comments(3)

NOconcern4ppl writes:

But Larry as you say, you are living in an alternate Santa Monica universe to ANY of the homeless population and I appreciate you recognizing that aspect. I'm sorry to have to burst your pink cloud floating over the sandy beaches by Casa del Mar but it's the reality of the Realty! I do remember you people coming in and offering us a welcome break in the drudgery of that hell and I thank you. Please remember when you next go there that it's not all it seems. Isabelle would rather kick me out and shut me up than have a sexual assault situation blowing up. The dishwasher guy Reggie who everyone thinks is so nice, I woke up to his hands down my pants after staying with him cos I'd left instead of sharing space with dangerous women. I told him he shouldn't laugh he should be in jail to which Lance, the security, said 'why do you want to put a black man down?'. I hope that clarifies a lot for you.

NOconcern4ppl writes:

Hate to agree with blueyedpisces, well actually I dont hate to, I do agree cos did live at the Cloverfield location and even worked in the kitchen where your team is stood, so that's not the Access Centre at all. It looks clean as well, when I worked in there it was a grimy health hazard mess that myself and chef did the best we could to keep up but lazy staff who just kick it smoking with the clients all night don't help the situation. The abuse IS real, the dehumanizing treatment of clients IS real, the lack of compassion - if any - IS real. I will fight you tooth and nail til I'm blue in the face on this one Larry. I'm really resent someone who steps into the situation a couple of hours a week and then jets off home offering an opinion on how we have lived. Ask me would I go on the street or back here? I'd go on the street. In fact I did just that when they took my cubicle away. I refused to stay in a big room with violent, thieving women. It simply wasn't safe for many reasons.

blueyedpisces writes:

First of all the Human Rights Violation article wasn't referring to the Access Center, it was referring to SafeHaven. The shelter on Cloverfield. And second of all, you are volunteers serving food at the Access Center which isn't even a shelter so there is no way you would see or hear any of the incidents named in the article. I lived there for almost a year and rven though I am grateful to the MIT Team at OPCC who came through fot me and got me housed, I witnessed quite a few Violations that had me questioning the staff. All in all, they really should train their staff or hire sraff experienced to handle seriously mental clients or not let them stay at the shelters. I know it must be difficult to turn them away but they could also get them shtlter through the Department of Mental Health.


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