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

Call for City's Social Services Commission to Resign over The People Concern scandal

Members of the public allege the Commission failed the community by ignoring reports of failures, neglect and abuse

 

February 4, 2019

At the Commission's 1/28/19 meeting multiple speakers expressed their frustration with the Commission's reluctance to act. Public comments by Olga Zurawska are below.

The Santa Monica Social Services Commission has been hearing about the failures of the City's homeless services provider, OPCC dba The People Concern, for about fourteen months now. The Commission has heard multiple times about the warehousing of homeless clients, about the intimidation and civil rights violations including elder neglect, sexual harassment, disability discrimination and retaliatory program terminations.

The Commission has been presented with the alarming 2017 LAHSA monitoring review of OPCC, which found unmet performance targets, noncompliance with contract provisions, insufficient documentation of reported outcomes, failure to follow internal controls, and failure to utilize program funds in accordance with the contract budget.

The Commission has been presented with a copy of the lawsuit filed by former employees of The People Concern in July 2018.

One sentence from the lawsuit states:

"(...) Defendants created and maintain a lawless, unhealthy, and dangerous environment for both the homeless people they serve, and for front-line dedicated employees such as the Plaintiffs who were harassed, retaliated against and ultimately discharged for standing up for their right to a workplace free from health hazards and harassment based on race and sex."

Finally, the Commission has been presented with the testimony of multiple OPCC clients before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in May of 2018. The nine-minute video entitled "Measure H Atrocities" is available on Youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-EYPEGuF-o&t=14s

How come after receiving all the above information, the Social Services Commission has failed to act in order to protect the vulnerable clients, as well as the fiduciary interests of the taxpayers?

This is not the only instance where the Commission failed to follow its mission and perform its duties. For at least five years now the Commission failed to prepare an assessment of the social services programs for the City Council as required by the Santa Monica Municipal Code.

This is incomprehensible.

I request that the Social Services Commission immediately advise the City Council to put safeguards in place to protect the organization's vulnerable clients.

If the Commission is not willing to do so, as a Santa Monica resident I request that all the members of the current Santa Monica Social Services Commission resign and make room for new commissioners who are ready to properly serve the community and protect its interests, including the wellbeing of the most vulnerable citizens.

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