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MIKE’S LEADERSHIP IN CONFRONTING THE HOMELESS CRISIS

Mike is taking aggressive and comprehensive action to address our homelessness crisis. He is building and identifying housing, launching programs, fighting for quicker, less expensive solutions — and forcing the bureaucracy to respond more urgently to the humanitarian crisis of our time.

Mike is outraged that tens of thousands of people sleep in encampments on our sidewalks, and that five unhoused people die each day. He is a sharp critic of the failed policies that led us here, and is working in his district to create and demonstrate better approaches (see below).

Mike has been a prescient and passionate voice on homelessness, warning of the crisis and advocating new solutions years before others even acknowledged there was a problem. Here is sampling of where Mike has been ahead of the curve, calling for interventions to address the looming crisis:

  • Mike was the first elected official in LA to push for solutions faster and less expensive than permanent supportive housing, and was chastised for his then-unorthodox position.
  • Mike has been fighting since 2015 for nimbler solutions to homelessness, such as shared housing and master leasing, which the City is now finally beginning to explore. 
  • Mike was the earliest advocate for bridge housing programs that are now a resource around the City.
  • Mike was the first to advocate for “safe parking” programs for people living in their vehicles, fighting with bureaucrats and attorneys to create the LA program.
  • Mike pioneered the use of Lava Mae, the mobile shower program for people living on the streets, funded and installed bathrooms and fought to employ unhoused residents to help clean encampments. 
  • Mike has won admiration for resisting vocal opposition to homeless housing in his district, and for opposing repeated attempts to criminalize homelessness.

Mike has continued to be ahead of the curve on homelessness, urging the City to enter into a consent decree with the County of Los Angeles, groups suing the City, and unhoused people and their advocates, to create a comprehensive and legally enforceable (and judicially overseen) action plan to immediately shelter people, provide long term housing, and reform the system.

 

Mike has launched, approved, opened, or proposed the following:

PROJECTS & PROGRAMS IN DISTRICT 11

On Mike’s watch, his Westside district has been an example of neighborhoods stepping up to be part of the solution, opening supportive housing and bridge housing, and piloting shared housing, safe parking, safe camping, and a variety of street and services.

Permanent Supportive Housing at the following locations has been opened, approved, or proposed on Mike’s watch:

  • 11976 Culver Boulevard in Del Rey,  (opened)
  • 11368 Beach Avenue in Del Rey,  (opened)
  • 11738 Courtleigh Drive in Del Rey,  (opened)
  • 11950 W. Missouri in West LA,  (under construction)
  • 2454 S Barry Ave in West LA,  (approved)
  • 3233 S. Thatcher Avenue in Venice, (approved)
  • 8333 Airport Blvd in Westchester, (approved)
  • 720 Rose Avenue in Venice,  (under construction)
  • 2469 Lincoln Boulevard in Venice, and the (approved)
  • Veterans Administration Campus in Brentwood. (some opened) –  for veterans only
  • Veterans Administration campus in Brentwood, as well as at (some under construction) –  for veterans only
  • Venice Boulevard and Pacific Avenue in Venice, – (proposed)
  • DCRC: 12901 Venice Blvd in Mar Vista  (proposed)

Bridge housing is temporary housing meant to be a bridge from the streets to long-term, stable housing:

  • 200 Sunset Avenue in Venice (opened)
  • The VA campus in Brentwood –  (opened) – for veterans only
  • Mitchell Avenue in Mar Vista.   (opened)

A Project Roomkey is a federally-funded program to lease until the end of the pandemic rooms for temporary homeless housing.   Hotels operational in CD11: 

  • Cadillac Hotel on Venice Beach. 

Encampment to Home is a focused program bringing outreach, services and housing or shelter placements to a concentrated area. A successful program was implemented at:

  • Rose/Penmar in Venice – housing more than 75 people from a single encampment without any police intervention at all.
  • Manchester Square near LAX — housed over 50 individuals slowly and thoughtfully closing off public streets in a major encampment in preparation for an imminent construction project. No major LAPD presence. Thoughtful, deliberate and humane.
  • Venice Beach – connected 211 people with a pathway to permanent housing. The largest single housing effort in LA’s history.

Project Homekey is a state-funded program to purchase hotels and motels for use as homeless housing. Properties have been purchased at:

  • 9250 Airport Boulevard in Westchester (Open!)
  • 3130 Washington Boulevard in Venice/Marina del Rey. (Open!)

Cabin communities are a collection of small structures (approximately 100 sq feet), constructed quickly and inexpensively, that provide personal shelter. The communities provide services, security, sanitation and a path out of homelessness. Proposed locations for either safe camping or cabin communities are:

  • Marina Launch Ramp Parking Lot (13477 Fiji Way)  (proposed — the site under consideration for a cabin community OR safe camping)
  • LAX property to be determined (proposed) – this site under consideration for a cabin community OR safe parking OR safe camping)

Safe Parking is a program allowing people living in their vehicles to park safely overnight, with security, access to bathrooms, and access to services, in assigned spots in a certain lot. Programs in CD11:

  • Westchester at the Recreation and Parks parking lot at 9045 Lincoln Boulevard (opened) 
  • CD11 field office at 1645 Corinth Avenue in West LA  (opened) 
  • Veterans Administration campus in Brentwood.  (opened)for veterans only
  • Dockweiler Beach (proposed) – the site under consideration safe parking)
  • LAX property to be determined (proposed) – this site under consideration for a cabin community OR safe parking OR safe camping)

Safe camping is a program allowing people who would otherwise be living in sidewalk encampments to sleep safely, with security, access to bathrooms, and access to services, in assigned spots in a certain area. Programs in CD11:

  • VA campus in Brentwood.  (opened)for veterans only
  • LAX property to be determined (proposed) – this site under consideration for a cabin community OR safe parking OR safe camping)
  • Marina Del Rey Boat Ramp #2 (proposed — the site under consideration for a cabin community OR safe camping)

Emergency shelters have also periodically operated in 

  • West LA
  • Westchester
  • Venice.

Shared Housing – Mike has twice piloted a successful program with SHARE! (Self-Help and Recovery Exchange) of Culver City, which matches unhoused people as roommates in mutually supportive, communal, recovery-based settings in a single-family. The program is fast, efficient, successful, and scalable. It houses people quickly and saves lives.

Public Health & Hygiene at Encampments – Mike has proposed and piloted a smart and reasonable program to help clean encampments and protect public health. Instead of the city’s wasteful and controversial program that forcefully cleans encampments, often with the presence of LAPD, and confiscates people’s belongings, Mike has worked with residents and volunteers and city staff on a program that offers sanitation and hygiene services, resulting in cleaner encampments and improved public health, and costing less money, taking less time, and causing less controversy.

Lava Mae – Mike advocated for the launch of  Lava Mae in Los Angeles – a mobile shower and restroom nonprofit that provides mobile showers to homeless people. He introduced a motion to bring more mobile showers to LA neighborhoods to give people living on the street access to basic hygienic services. Lava Mae, Power of a Shower, and other programs have been used in the district to help build trust with unhoused individuals.

Access to Restrooms- Mike fought to make sure bathrooms were available to unhoused residents, opening restrooms at Venice Beach overnight, and convincing the city to contract with Pit Stop, a program that provided mobile bathrooms in certain areas. When the pandemic hit and public places with restrooms closed, Mike moved aggressively to provide restrooms and hygiene stations in his district, ahead of other districts and city agencies.

LAX Homeless Services – Mike pushed for LAX to establish a dedicated homeless issues consultant to spearhead solutions-based approaches to homelessness at the LAX terminals and within airport-owned lands. Over the years a series of consultants have expanded this program and unhoused individuals at LAX are regularly offered shelter and services. Some individuals have even been reconnected with family across the country through collaboration with airline providers. Dedicated teams of mental health clinicians and unarmed, plainclothes airport police officers with special training have become a model for providing a care-based approach, with other airport leaders regularly reaching out to LAX airport staff for help and expertise.

 

POLICIES

Mike has consistently and urgently warned that systemic change is needed to address homelessness. Through his work on the streets doing personal outreach to the unhoused, Mike has seen how the system is broken, and how proposed a series of smart and substantive changes.

Getting People Off the Streets More Quickly

Mike believes that everyone experiencing homelessness needs a response appropriate to their needs. While Los Angeles has tended to focus on one strategy at a time, Mike has fought for a broad menu of strategies. Elected officials and the bureaucracy ignored these concepts for years, and are now finally beginning to implement them.

Master Leasing – Since 2016, Mike has urged the City of Los Angeles to emulate a successful program used by the Los Angeles County Health System and by The People Concern — master leasing of vacant apartment units. By having a housing inventory immediately, caseworkers can move people off the street quickly.

Rapid Rehousing – Mike knows that most homeless people do not need long-term supportive housing. Many people need short-term assistance. He has advocated for greater use of Rapid Rehousing vouchers, which provide short-term rental subsidies.

Shared Housing – Mike has been a lonely voice in the City advocating for shared housing. He has piloted the project and shown that formerly unhoused people living together in a home, in a mutually supportive environment, is a fast and inexpensive solution.

Project Roomkey – Mike has been the city’s most forceful advocate for aggressively using a 100% federally funded program to pay for motel and hotel rooms to house COVID-vulnerable unhoused people during the pandemic. He has excoriated bureaucrats who have failed to pursue the program, which could have moved thousands of people indoors, saving lives, reducing encampments, and saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

Project Homekey – Mike has been a chief advocate for a similar program that uses state and federal funds to purchase hotels and motels for either interim or permanent supportive housing. To date, Los Angeles has purchased 18 motels, 2 in the 11th District, and is seeking to purchase more, creating hundreds of units of homeless housing rapidly.

CES Matching – Mike has identified that the bureaucracy is failing to take advantage of city resources to provide low-income or homeless housing. The City requires or incentives construction of affordable housing in multiple developments, but fails to require or even ask that developers link those units with databases of people in need of low-income housing. He has proposed linking affordable units in Los Angeles with the “Coordinated Entry System” database managed by the  Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). 

Preventing Homelessness

Eviction Prevention – Mike advocated for a citywide eviction moratorium for all renters during the COVID-19 pandemic. He supported the subsequent expansion by the Council of eviction protections for both residential and commercial renters to prevent those impacted by COVID-19 from eviction. Mike further advocated for a citywide rent freeze during the COVID-19 emergency, and supported the Council’s decision to freeze rents in all units subject to the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (buildings constructed prior to 1978). He has also supported a citywide anti-harassment ordinance, to ensure no one can be discriminated against and denied housing for source of rent (like a housing voucher). He has also supported requiring “just cause” for all evictions. In the long-term, Mike has proposed changing the formula for rent increases in rent-stabilized units to ensure increases do not go up faster than the cost of living. 

Right to Counsel – Mike has long advocated for providing legal assistance to tenants facing eviction in Los Angeles. He supported the creation of the Eviction Defense Program, which provides services including legal counsel to tenants and would like to see this program be expanded, and fully funded into a permanent program. 

Affordable Housing – Mike is one of the city’s strongest advocates of affordable housing, and the city leader most willing to offer bold and new proposals to address the affordable housing crisis. He has authored legislation to: 

  • Tighten city regulations regarding preservation and protection of affordable housing in coastal areas; 
  • Explore the concept of “social housing,” subsidized, mixed-income housing, similar to models in Europe and Hong Kong; 
  • Create inclusionary zoning policies, which would require affordable housing in most developments; 
  • Give tenants or non-profits the right to purchase housing to preserve affordability, and empower Community Land Trusts to acquire property for this purpose. 
  • Create a vacancy penalty to discourage vacant housing units being held as investments rather than housing. 

Fighting a Broken System 

Calling for a Consent Decree – Mike knows that fundamental change is needed in how the city, county and other agencies approach homelessness. He has called for significant and specific changes. With the homeless crisis worsening and the local governmental entities in Los Angeles diffusing authority and responsibility, Mike has called for a consent decree under the supervision of U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter, who has been handling a federal lawsuit over homelessness. 

A consent decree would be a binding agreement, enforceable as law. Mike has proposed that the city, county, and unhoused residents be a part of, creating three distinct pathways providing: emergency housing to address the immediate crisis on our streets; long-term housing to provide a permanent exit from homelessness; and systemic reforms to prevent thousands of people from ever winding up on our streets again.

LINKS, VIDEOS, AND MORE INFO

Mike’s Videos About Homelessness

Other Videos

Mike’s Opinion Editorials

Significant News Stories