One of the largest concentrations of homeless people in Los Angeles – and the largest in Mike’s district – is in Venice, with more than 1,000 people unhoused. On March 29, Mike hosted a special meeting to explain the city and county homelessness strategies, and to outline his proposals to implement the strategies in Venice.
The following is a summary of Mike’s plan for Venice.
Elements of Venice Plan
- Preserving Affordable Housing
- Building Affordable Housing
- Building Homeless Housing
- Coordinated Entry System
- Enhanced Outreach
- Enhanced and Expanded Services
- Street Strategy
Preserving Affordable Housing: Mello Act Reform
Mike has proposed legislation to reform and strengthen the Mello Act, the local law that protects affordable housing in the coastal zone, making it harder for developers to reduce or eliminate affordable housing in Venice.
UPDATE: Legislation proposed. City Departments working on draft ordinance.
Preserving Affordable Housing: Short-Term Rental Regulations
Mike has proposed legislation governing short-term rentals, preventing rogue hotel operators from buying entire buildings, removing rental and affordable units from the market and converting apartments into permanent short-term rentals.
UPDATE: A draft ordinance was released on April 15. Click HERE to find out more.
Building Affordable Housing: MTA Bus Yard
Mike and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl have proposed that the former bus yard located at 100 Sunset Avenue in Venice be turned into housing, with a significant portion dedicated to affordable housing for making at most 60% of the area median income (about $33,000 a year).
UPDATE: Metro approved Mike’s motion, and is beginning the first step – scoping out the remediation needed for the site.
Building Homeless Housing: Dell/Pacific Lot
Mike is proposing building housing for the homeless at the surface parking located between North and South Venice Boulevard and Pacific and Dell Avenue. The city could build housing for the homeless and the current amount of public parking – approximately 177 spaces – in a new parking structure.
UPDATE: Mike’s legislation to begin the process was approved by the Council’s Transportation Committee on May 11. Click HERE to find out more.
Providing Homeless Housing: Expand Rapid Rehousing
The City is expanding its funding for Rapid Rehousing –rental subsidies and services. RRH is the most effective and efficient intervention for more than 50 percent of homeless individuals and families. RRH is also more cost effective than other options. In December, the City allocated $11 million to rapid rehousing programs – and $1.3 million of that money is administered St. Joseph Center.
UPDATE: Underway as a result of council homelessness budget allocations in past few months. St. Joseph Center in Venice is lead agency for the Westside. Additional funds expected in next year’s budget.
Coordinated Entry System: Venice Forward
Venice Forward is a new collaborative created to more rapidly move people into housing. The cooperative venture between government, social service agencies, businesses, and residents has 3 goals: To create a functional Venice-centric casework collaborative, supportive of and integrated with the SPA 5 Coordinated Entry System (CES) and a Housing First philosophy, that rapidly moves the Venice homeless population into housing and supportive services; To create a network of willing community partners to support such a collaborative and secure additional resources, such as housing vouchers and affordable housing; To share success stories publicly to create community awareness of progress and engage more people in problem solving.
UPDATE: Venice Forward has been operational since early 2015.
Enhanced Outreach: 211 and Venice Forward
People concerned about homeless neighbors or people in crisis living on the streets can log on to www.VeniceForward.org to ask a service provider to respond. Residents may also call the County’s 211 line, and after selecting their language, dial 7 to be connected to a community resource adviser. The person who picks up is trained to collect information and, like the web form, get this information to the head of the coordinated outreach team for a social service based response.
UPDATE: Recently launched. Operational.
Enhanced Outreach: LAHSA Teams
LAHSA Emergency Response Teams (ERT) offer services to people in the City and County of Los Angeles who are homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness, including direct emergency services and transportation, shelter referrals to homeless families, unaccompanied adults, and youth, and outreach services to homeless encampment dwellers. ERT teams work in areas throughout the city, including Venice and the Venice team (2-4 dedicated outreach workers) is based at St. Joseph Center in Lincoln.
UPDATE: Recently launched. Operational.
Enhanced Outreach: LAPD Chaplains
Mike is supporting the work of LAPD Chaplains Regina and Steve Weller with a $50,000 grant. The Wellers have placed 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.
UPDATE: Mike’s legislation to allocate $50,000 to the Weller’s work was approved on April 22. Click HERE to find out more.
Enhanced and Expanded Services: Treating Mental Illness – Exodus
The County Department of Mental Health has reopened Exodus Recovery Treatment facility, and will now offers Urgent Care beds for those in a mental health crisis, Services include:psychiatric crisis center open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year; mental health assessment; medication evaluation and management; therapeutic interventions; social services and referrals including a variety of discharge plans that range from home to hospital; services provided by an interdisciplinary team of MD’s, NP’s, RN’s, MSW’s, MFT’s.
UPDATE: Reopened a few months ago. Operational.
Enhanced and Expanded Services: Treating Mental Illness – VCHIP
The Venice Chronic Homeless Assertive Case Management Team (VCHIP) team is an intensive Mental Health unit that focuses on treating the most vulnerable individuals on the street. The program is funded by the County and is administered by St. Joseph Center.
Enhanced and Expanded Services: Training First Responders
LAPD Officers are now being trained on how to best respond when interacting with people who might have a mental illness. Additionally, Systemwide Mental Assessment Response Teams (S.M.A.R.T.) pair officers and mental health professionals to help assess people with mental illness in the field. Working closely with the LA County Department of Mental Health and LAPD, Mike is seeking to ensure first responders have the tools and training to adequately assess and respond in situations where there are mental health concerns. There is currently one SMART Team assigned to West Bureau, and Mike is working to have a Team dedicated to Pacific Division in the next few months. Additionally, the LAPD’s Mental Evaluation Unit is working with the County Department of Mental Health to assist people in Venice.
UPDATE: Operational, seeking to expand for Venice in new budget.
Enhanced and Expanded Services: Healthcare
Integrated mobile health teams provide street-based health and mental health treatment to chronically homeless and severely mentally ill individuals in Venice. Integrated teams are supported by the County, City, and local nonprofits and help reduce the number of costly emergency room visits by people living on the street.
UPDATE: Underway. Funded by LA County.
Enhanced and Expanded Services: Education & Youth Employment
LAHSA and Homeless Service Providers play a critical role in helping our youth who, still developing, often lack the education and job skills necessary to find and keep stable employment. Safe Place for Youth (SPY) has an in house education and employment specialist which runs a 3 step program to assist our your in creating and implementing a plan as well as matching them with employment opportunities. It is imperative that programs like these continue to be supported.
UPDATE: Underway, committing to continue and fund. Helped secure new site for SPY.
Street Strategy: Storage
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 as suitable the former Westminster Senior Center at 1234 Pacific Avenue. The facility could allow 160 people to drop off their materials and register with the Coordinated Entry System. The program would be run by Chrysalis.
UPDATE: Mike introduced legislation to start the process of expanding storage in Venice. Click HERE to find out more.
Street Strategy: Showers
In San Francisco, neighbors formed a non-profit group called Lava Mae (http://lavamae.org/), which retrofitted surplus buses into mobile showers that travel throughout the City, allowing homeless people to bathe and even do laundry. Using donated busses from LADOT and/or Metro, Mike has asked LAHSA to work with Lava Mae to begin a pilot program in Venice that will retrofit the busses into mobile showers and allow homeless people to have access to showers.
UPDATE: Working with Lava Mae; seeking funding in budget; hopeful to have operational by the end of the year.
Street Strategy: Bathrooms
In this year’s budget, Mike is seeking funds to allow Department of Recreation & Parks to keep beach restrooms open after hours. He will additionally consider placing portable toilets at locations identified by the Venice Neighborhood Council. Currently, Venice lacks sufficient public restrooms, especially those offered in late hours. 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.
UPDATE: Mike introduced legislation to extend hours at restrooms near the beach. Click HERE to find out more.
Street Strategy: Safe Parking
Program still in development. Mike is urging the City to allow programs similar to the Safe Parking programs that have been successful in Santa Barbara, where small numbers of people who live in their cars or RVs are allowed to safely park in non-profit, church or city parking lots overnight, where they have access to restrooms and can be connected with service providers.
UPDATE: Mike continues to push legislation to create the program. It was included in the City Comprehensive Homelessness Strategy.
News Coverage of Mike’s Venice Homelessness Plan
- Los Angeles Times, EDITORIAL: “Venice Homeless Plan is Smart and Enterprising”; April 21, 2016
- LAist, “The Plan to Help Venice’s Homeless”; April 18, 2016
- Los Angeles Times, “LA Considers Providing Homeless in Venice with Housing, Storage, Restrooms”; April 17, 2016
- The Argonaut, “Venice Plan Moves in the Right Direction”; April 6, 2016
- The Argonaut, “Bonin: It’s Time to Take Action on Homelessness”; April 6, 2016