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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Venice Homeless Reunification Program to go Big Time


Venice Neighborhood Council Homeless Committee”s reunification program to perhaps go citywide. 

Councilwoman Nury Martinez, representing much of San Fernando Valley, made a motion in City Council to study the feasibility of a citywide, stand-alone family and friends reunification program, starting with a pilot program in her district next year.

“This is really incredible and I’m more than a little blown away how something that we started here in Venice with a few volunteers has a chance to become the standard of innovative solutions to reduce homelessness,” said Will Hawkins, chair of the Homeless Committee.




Comments (6)

  1. Will

    Hi Regina,
    Thank you for reminding me that while we’re new at this and excited about our accomplishments there are many people like you and Steve who have worked tirelessly for decades to help improve homeless situation here in our community.

    The Homeless Task Force is an important and integral part of the Venice Community and the work you and your husband have done as members of the Four Square Church has been amazing. I would never compare the work of our small volunteer reunification effort through the Venice Homeless Committee to the far-reaching and on-going work that people like yourself execute on a day-to-day basis. And I apologize if the way I’ve promoted our reunification efforts have offended you and others in the non-profit community. We just wanted the community to be as excited about our work as we are.

    My intent has been to show the people who elected us (and the others in Venice that we represent) that we are working hard and going above and beyond as volunteer elected officials to improve the homeless situation in our community. Our success in reunifying people has not just been exciting and rewarding it’s been an humbling education on how our society and government has failed those who are most vulnerable. Nothing in my life has been as satisfying and purposeful as hearing from emotional and thankful mothers and fathers reporting back to me that their son or daughter had just arrived home safe. Since getting elected I’ve learned a lot from many of the members of the non-profit community as I’ve learned from my mistakes in my efforts to serve my community the best way possible. That includes the many lessons I’ve learned working with you and Steve as well. Which is why I extended the invitation to you last month to join our homeless committee as one of our guest members. That invitation is still open to you and I hope that we have the honor of your presence as a member of our team in 2018.

    I’ve called Venice home now for almost ten years. I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else in my life with the exception of my hometown back east. It’s been a privilege and and an honor to represent my neighbors on the VNC. After losing my mother this past year I was blown away with how Venice threw it’s arms around me with love and support. I’m a proud Venetian who just only goal in this was to help those who can’t help themselves. Thanks again for reminding me that we have a lot to learn from strong leaders like yourself – and only together can we all work to improve lives of both the housed and unhoused here in Venice. I apologize if anything I’ve done or said offended you or the memory of your dear husband. I hope we can use this experience as a launching pad to do great things together in 2018 and beyond.

    Good luck and Godspeed.

    Will Hawkins
    Chairman, Venice Homeless Committee
    Community Officer, Venice Neighborhood Council

  2. Rick Swinger

    OK sorry about that it wasn’t clear but anyway I said a tenth of this would great savings. Is bussing these folks out of town the answer? The problem if you read this article we have got competition in cities all around our country.They are bussing more people into our area than we are bussing out so the net is ever increasing and we here in Venice and Santa Monica have reach a “Critical Mass” never seen before here. Just tracking the individual feces on our streets for 18 months I have documented a 30 fold increase in alleys around. It use to be a once a month clean up and now its ever day and everywhere. With Mr. Bonin cutting LA Sanctions funding its seem the wrong time to do that and also the LA Sanitation misses the most dangerous problem for most the trash and defecation is occurring in our neighborhood alleyways and not on the sidewalks of the encampment. They do not clean our alleys and St. Joseph promised us Security and clean up crews that never showed up.Any ideas for we are getting very tired of cleaning their feces off our homes and churches here!

  3. Will

    That’s the total for all 26 ppl, not just for the 6 reunited during the holiday campaign.

  4. Will

    You’re math is off Rick and I think you misunderstood the article. 26 ppl total housed/reunited this year. Using numbers from a recent USC study that states each homeless person costs the city upwards of $93k per year. That adds up to over $2 million dollars of housing and services saved for the city.

  5. Rick Swinger

    The VNC Homeless committee is doing a pretty good job and I have agreed with all of their motions so far. I just have a question here. If these numbers are true from your last email newsletter thats states During our last Home for the Holidays campaign with Safe Place for Youth we reunited six people with their families, saving the city $2,418,000 in housing and services cost thats a whooping $403,000 per person! With that kind of savings even a tenth of that would be great. Why isn’t the city buying more of these bus tickets and sending these folks anywhere they feel will help them? From this article lots of cities are doing this. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2017/dec/20/bussed-out-america-moves-homeless-people-country-study

    • I am finally disgusted and appalled by all the rhetoric and self-aggrandisement. What happened to honesty and integrity? Is it no longer valued? What Will Hawkins fails to state is that the he and the VNC have been utilizing the “Family Reunification” methods of the Homeless Task Force that we have implemented for years in Venice. The Homeless Task Force has taken off the street: 175 people in 2015, with 53 returned home to families of origin; 118 people in 2016, with 41 returned home; and 98 in 2017 with 3 returning home. Based on our stats, maybe Will can calculate how much the HTF has saved the city? Last Thursday I returned 3 precious young people home on the same day: 2 to Missouri and 1 to Sacramento. Phone calls were made to their parents who welcomed them, and LAPD pacific Division drove them to the Greyhound bus.

      All the while Will Hawkins has verbalized to many (as I have constantly been told) criticizing and discounting my husband and myself, and even to others at Pastor Steve’s memorial service. Will doesn’t even personally know us. The Homeless Task Force has helped many with very little funding, under the radar and without the fanfare that some individuals seemingly need to catapult themselves into the image of an important figure. I am glad that anyone would wise up to what works to assist the unhoused off the streets, but what is astonishing is that Will discounts our benevolent ideas, and then claims them as his own to boost his 2 year standing in this Venice community, and put a feather in his cap in the public forum. 2 years in from New York and he pretends to be an expert in the area of homelessness in Venice and loves to argue and bash everyone here who’s had to endure for some time the sadness and travesty of the homeless crisis. This homeless situation is serious, and many have perished on the streets and residents remain perplexed and frightened because those in community leadership may choose to use this venue to rise up with their names “in lights” on this watershed issue and on the backs of those suffering.

      My sweet husband may not be alive to confront Will’s polarizing behavior, but his wife is. Nonetheless, Pastor Steven Weller’s legacy will continue forever in the hearts of those he rescued.

      Chaplain Regina Weller
      Homeless Task Force

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