A note from Mike

January 15, 2015

Literally, every meeting and conversation I have had today focused on homelessness. It is a growing problem across the Westside, and most especially in Venice. It is a complex subject poorly served and never solved by quick slogans or soundbites. It is an issues that demands nuance.

Certain neighborhoods in Venice have a large and rapidly growing homeless population. We must do everything we can to end homelessness throughout Los Angeles by providing those who need it and want it with housing and appropriate services. That is going to take collaborative effort, innovative approaches, A LOT more affordable housing, and implementation of our countywide “Housing First” strategy. And I’m not going to rest until we get it done. It is a daily focus for me and my team.

At the same time, certain neighborhoods in Venice have a big and growing crime problem, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to get my neighborhoods the resources they deserve to combat it. Accordingly, the other day I reiterated my call on Chief Charlie Beck to give us the same type of resources that were given to Hollywood when they faced similar problems. We need more cops and more proactive enforcement to prevent crime. Our residential neighborhoods and our parks and playgrounds also cannot become blighted encampments, filled with trash and abandoned furniture.

But let me be clear: in Venice we have a crime problem — not a homeless crime problem. There are homeless victims of crime — just as there are housed victims of crime. There are homeless perpetrators of crime, just as there are housed perpetrators of crime.

It is naive to think that there is not an intersection between crime and the growing number of encampments in Venice. (And wrong to think most crime in Venice takes place at that intersection.). The growing number of encampments are allowing criminal elements to camouflage themselves and threaten or do harm to homeless people and to nearby neighborhood residents. We need every social service resource available to move people off the streets and into housing. And we need every law enforcement resource available to keep our neighborhoods safe and to make sure that people — housed and unhoused — live free of fear.

There are those who think the only solution is law-enforcement, and they may be angry that I’m insisting on more and better services and affordable housing. And there are those who will be angry with me because they think law enforcement is the problem and all we need is more services or housing. I’ll take the slings and arrows. Local government is about problem-solving, not ideology.

Working together we can end homelessness and keep our neighborhoods safe.