Councilmember Mike Bonin, the Los Angeles Homelessness Authority, and the St. Joseph Center Launch “Encampment to Home” Program at Rose- Penmar Encampment in Venice

VENICE, CA — The largest encampment on the Westside is the focus of an ambitious effort to find housing for the 100 unhoused residents who have been living on the outskirts of the Penmar Golf Course on Rose Avenue, Councilmember Mike Bonin announced today.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and the St. Joseph Center are leading the “Encampments to Home” effort, with a variety of service providers and county agencies, and with the support of Los Angeles County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas. Modeled after similar efforts in South Los Angeles, the program is offering housing to every resident of the encampment and helping them move off the streets before the end of the month. Since the program launched last week, 32 people have moved into housing.

“We need an urgent, focused response that can show rapid results,” Bonin said. “We have seen this approach work in two other areas of the city, and it is why I have been pushing so hard to bring the program to Venice and to the largest encampment in my district. It is inhumane to leave 100 people to live and die on our streets.”

The “Encampment to Homes” approach — which brings an intense concentration of resources to a single encampment and houses everyone living there — has worked in other parts of the City. In a partnership with LAHSA, St. Joseph Center, PATH, and Los Angeles County, in 2017-18, officials at LAX housed, relocated or reunited with their families nearly 100 people from an area that was slated to become a construction zone as part of the LAX modernization project. Most of the same agencies are involved in this effort as well.

In Venice, the former jogging and walking path on the south side of Penmar Golf Course has become one of the largest encampments on the Westside. It has grown from a handful of tents and residents a year ago to dozens of tents with approximately 100 residents. A series of fires there — some accidental, and some under investigation for potential arson — have lit large, overhanging trees on fire, posing a danger to the encampment and to the nearby neighborhood.

The Los Angeles Fire Department has advised that low-hanging trees above an encampment with frequent cooking fires poses a risk of fire. To reduce the risk of fire, city agencies are preparing to trim the trees along the nearly mile-long path. Doing so may take 1-2 weeks and necessitates the closure of lanes on Rose Avenue and the use of heavy equipment in the area. Rather than force a massive displacement of nearly 100 unhoused residents, LAHSA and local agencies agreed to launch the Encampment to Homes program. 

“St.Joseph Center is looking forward to working with LAHSA and Councilmember Bonin to ensure that the encampment to home project in Venice is a success,” said Va Lecia Adams Kellum, President and CEO of St. Joseph Center. ”Many thanks to Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas for their support of our outreach teams, who are assisting with this effort.”

“LAHSA and our partners are committed to supporting Penmar Park’s unhoused neighbors with permanent solutions,” added Heidi Marston, Executive Director of LAHSA. 

Bonin has championed the Encampment to Homes approach since 2019. He has pushed for its expansion citywide, and formally called for a demonstration project in the Rose-Penmar area earlier this year. The program intensifies outreach and case management and offers a range of housing options to current residents. Those options include Project Roomkey, motel vouchers, shared housing, rapid rehousing vouchers, long-term supportive housing, rehab or detox services, and other options. 

As people relocate to housing, the path will be closed, in stages, to prepare for the tree trimming and for repairs that are needed to the fencing that lines the golf course. When residents have been relocated and the pathway is closed, trimming and repairs will begin. Once the repair work is completed, Council District 11 will work with the Department of Recreation & Parks (RAP) and StreetsLA to formally transfer jurisdiction of the path to RAP, and to restore the path for public recreational use once again.

Bonin visited the Rose-Penmar encampment Tuesday with U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter, who has been pushing the city and county to move faster to address homelessness. Bonin is also working to find housing for people living near and under freeways overpasses, in order to comply with Carter’s push for the city to relocate into housing or shelter the 7,000 unhoused people who live within 500 feet of a freeway.

Additionally, Bonin is:

  • This week, adding an additional 30 “safe parking” spots at his offices in Westchester in West LA, expanding a program run by Safe Parking LA that provides safe overnight accommodations and services to people living in their vehicles. 
  • Working to identify locations that house villages of “tiny homes” or accommodate “safe camping,” sanctioned areas with sanitary facilities and services that would be an alternative to sidewalk encampments. 
  • Next week, allocating $100,000 to SHARE! for a focused effort to house people in Venice through shared recovery housing. Continuing a pilot program with the Bureau of Sanitation that provides a services-led approach to cleaning encampment areas near the bridge home facility in Venice.

The Encampments to Homes program, Safe Camping, shared housing and leasing hotel rooms are all ideas Bonin has championed aggressively, and are part of his agenda of 10 things Los Angeles needs to be doing to address homelessness more quickly and less expensively: https://11thdistrict.com/10things/ 

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ENCAMPMENT TO HOME:

Housing Solution for Rose/Penmar 

ENCAMPMENT TO HOME:

In 2018, LAHSA, the Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System (HOPICS), The People Concern, the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health (DMH), the Los Angeles Department of Health Services (DHS), and others worked intensively with people living in two large encampments in South L.A. These areas were reflective of the variety of people who experience street-based homelessness in Los Angeles, including individuals, couples, and families of all ages, genders, and needs. 

By converging on two specific locations, coordinated outreach teams were able to focus intensely on engaging unsheltered residents, building quick rapport and allowing for workers to expedite the housing navigation process. Biweekly coordination meetings between all partner agencies allowed for nimble, client-level conferencing and barrier-busting to streamline the move from street to home. And, because housing resources were committed to all those living in these encampments, clients were that much more motivated to participate.

Through the combination of this intensive joint outreach, coordinated housing case management and navigation, and resource availability, the project team was able to identify, assess, and provide housing resources to 130 households—all individuals and families who came from street-based encampments. Perhaps more importantly, a year after completion of the project, nearly 93% of those who moved into a permanent unit remain successfully housed. 

 

ROSE/PENMAR ENCAMPMENT:

The “Rose-Penmar” encampment lines a mile-long stretch of the north side of Rose Avenue, east of Lincoln Boulevard, in Venice. Scores of tents occupy a former recreation path outside the fence of Penmar Golf Course, across the street from residences. Tents, structures, and activity often spill out onto Rose Avenue. The location, on the north side of a busy street with fast-moving traffic, is unsafe. Moreover, the tents and accumulated belongings are located underneath overgrown eucalyptus and pine trees, which presents a fire hazard that threatens the health and safety of residents of the encampment and nearby neighbors. In recent weeks, several fires and the repeated use of fireworks in the encampment have heightened the risk. The Los Angeles Fire Department has said that the low-hanging tree branches above the encampment are at continued risk of catching fire from warming or cooking fires. 

City Councilmember Mike Bonin introduced legislation earlier this year calling on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to launch an Encampment to Home program for the residents of the Rose/Penmar encampment in Venice. On September 25, 2020, LAHSA and the St. Joseph Center informed Bonin that dedicated housing resources were available for the Encampment to Home effort at Rose/Penmar. 

 

HOW IT WILL WORK: 

  • Dedicated outreach to the area has been launched and housing placements have begun.
  • Outreach teams are being funded by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas and will include staff from both LAHSA and the St. Joseph Center. Teams will include staff who participated in both the first Encampment to Home pilot project in South LA, as well as a similar effort at Manchester Square near LAX.
  • Residents of the encampment will be offered a menu of available housing options, including: 
      • Shelter beds
      • Project Roomkey hotel rooms
      • Permanent supportive housing placement
      • Shared housing
      • Rapid rehousing vouchers
      • Bonin’s office is also working to identify potential sites for safe camping or tiny home villages, which would present an additional option.
  • Thirty-two residents have already been moved into housing.
  • Starting this week, notices will be posted about the upcoming work and closures of the path and parking lane. Outreach teams will focus on targeted areas of the encampments to offer housing options to encampment residents. As residents have been offered housing and zones are vacated, each zone will be closed to ensure the area can be kept clear for the required tree trimming to occur.
  • Closures of the path and parking lane will be done in zones, starting on the east end, beginning October 13, and continuing on October 19, and October 26.
  • On October 27, after all the encampment residents have been offered immediate housing and the path and parking lane have been closed, the city will perform the tree trimming and begin restoration of the recreation path for public use.