Kicks Off Process for Homeless Housing, Expanded Storage, Enhanced Outreach and Increased Access to Restrooms in Venice
VENICE, CA – City Councilmember Mike Bonin today submitted a series of proposals to the City Council, advancing key elements of his recently-announced strategy to combat homelessness in Venice.
Bonin’s legislation includes proposals for new housing for the homeless, expanded voluntary storage for homeless people’s belongings, enhanced outreach and increased access to restrooms. The proposals are part of a broader strategy that includes construction of homeless housing, initiatives to protect affordable housing, additional rapid rehousing vouchers, increased coordination among service providers, and additional mental health resources.
“There are more than 1,000 homeless people in Venice, living in encampments on sidewalks in various neighborhoods. It’s unjust and wrong for everyone and it demands we find solutions and create alternatives,” said Bonin. “In response, we are creating needed housing for the homeless, expanding storage space so people don’t need to leave their belongings on the sidewalks and public areas, supporting the work of outreach workers who are helping get people off the street by connecting them with services, and providing 24-hour access to restrooms to provide people living on the street an alternative to using public areas or private property as a toilet.”
One of the largest concentrations of homeless people in Los Angeles – and the largest in the Westside council district Bonin represents – is in Venice, with more than 1,000 people unhoused. On March 29, Bonin hosted a community meeting with hundreds of neighbors in Venice, where he explained the recently-approved City and County homelessness strategies, and outlined his proposals to implement the strategies in Venice.
“The adoption of City’s Comprehensive Homelessness Strategy is a big step in the right direction,” said Bonin. “But a plan is only as good as the way it is implemented. Not everything we do to address the crisis of homelessness in our City will be universally popular, but each element of the plan I announced in Venice is absolutely necessary to confront this crisis.”
The legislative package submitted today contains four proposals, including:
- Housing for the Homeless: Bonin is proposing building housing for the homeless at the surface parking located between North and South Venice Boulevards and Pacific and Dell Avenues in Venice. The City could build housing for the homeless and the current amount of public parking – approximately 177 spaces – in a new parking structure, and Bonin’s legislation asks the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (which manages the current parking lot) to prepare a Request for Proposals for development at the site.
- Expanded Storage: As part of the recently approved Comprehensive City Homelessness Strategy, the City is seeking to open voluntary storage programs at city facilities so that homeless people have a place to leave their belongings, and so that sidewalks can remain free of encampments during the day. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) has deemed the former Westminster Senior Center at 1234 Pacific Avenue as a suitable location for expanding storage capacity in Venice, and the facility could allow 160 people to drop off their materials and register with the Coordinated Entry System. Bonin’s proposal asks for LAHSA to work with City Departments to locate storage at the former Westminster Senior Center, and for the program to be run by the non-profit organization Chrysalis, which operates storage facilities in downtown LA.
- Enhanced Outreach: For years, LAPD Chaplains Regina and Steve Weller have worked in Los Angeles to place hundreds of homeless people in housing, focusing on family reunification and shared housing placements. The Weller’s work helps connect people directly with available services and resources to get them off the street quickly. In the legislation submitted today, Bonin proposes supporting the Weller’s work by allocating $50,000 to help enhance their ability to conduct outreach to homeless people in Venice.
- Access to Restrooms: Venice lacks sufficient public restrooms, especially those offered in late hours, and as a result, tourists and people without homes, lacking another option, often urinate and sometimes defecate in public, or even on private property. Many people living near the beach especially, have reported human waste near or on their property. Without providing bathrooms people will continue to urinate and defecate in public spaces creating a quality of life and health risks for those who live, work, and play in Venice. Bonin’s proposal instructs the Department of Recreation and Parks to identify public restroom facilities that can provide 24-hour access, specifically in Venice, at existing beach locations.
The legislative package is part of Bonin’s larger strategy to combat homelessness in Venice. A summary of the complete strategy can be seen at https://www.11thdistrict.com/venice_homelessness_plan.
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