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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Homeless By Choice?

Note:   CD11 Councilman Bonin and CD8 Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson took giant steps last week in submitting a motion calling on Los Angeles Housing Services Authority (LAHSA) to develop an immediate plan to shelter people living on the streets of Los Angeles.  The Plan calls for all LA homeless to be sheltered by end of December 2018.  It further states the plan is to be submitted within 14 days. The motion is without wiggle room.

Prior to this step, there has been a “lot” of political rhetoric and a “lot” of we need money to build.  The money is available; the homeless keep increasing in number; it takes time to build permanent housing.  These two councilmen have recognized that rhetoric is not getting the job done.  They want action.  They have taken the first steps to house people in an emergency -disaster type program.


By CD11 Councilman Mike Bonin

In nearly every corner of Los Angeles, there are homeless encampments — collections of flimsy tents, usually within mere feet of a school, a park, a business, or someone’s home. Their presence invariably sparks a neighborhood debate, with loud voices proclaiming that “those people” are there by choice.

It’s not politically correct to admit it, but it’s true: most people in Los Angeles are homeless by choice. Our choice, not theirs.

Many major cities have a large homeless population, but only in Los Angeles does such a large percentage sleep without any sort of roof, seeking refuge on cold, hard pavement. That may not be by design, but it’s also not accidental, or unforeseeable.

In 2006, a federal court told the City of Los Angeles it was “cruel and unusual punishment” to forbid people from sleeping on sidewalks unless the City offered sufficient housing and shelter as an alternative. For a decade, rather than provide housing or shelter, the City effectively said, “let them eat asphalt,” and encampments proliferated nearly everywhere. By refusing to choose shelter, we chose sidewalks.

In the past two years, elected officials and the electorate said “enough.” We developed a comprehensive homelessness strategy, approved new dedicated funding, and started housing people at an impressive, record clip. Yet homelessness increased and encampments proliferated.

Part of the reason is that public officials, foundations, and service providers are making the perfect the enemy of the good. We are so determined to build permanent supportive housing — which is expensive and can take years to bring online — that we fail to address the here and now. We desperately need thousands of units of permanent supportive housing (and I have proposed hundreds of units in my district), but that doesn’t help the people sleeping in a tent tonight.

Call it crisis housing, bridge housing, or interim housing. Call it shelter, if you want. We need places where people can sleep next week, next month, and even next year until enough housing is available. Not bare-bones, one-size-fits-all shelters that feel like prisons, and become permanent warehouses for people. We need specialized, welcoming centers or shared housing for couples, for families with children, for teenage runaways, for veterans, and others. Low-barrier, round-the-clock accommodations that are genuinely a first step to permanent housing.

Our bureaucracies and our institutions have a hard time with that. They know how to approve development. They are accustomed to the slow, complex financing systems, and the arcane rules. They are not used to urgency. They operate at a traditional speed when we sorely need an emergency response. It has been two years since the City Council adopted a comprehensive homelessness strategy calling for an increase in and transformation of shelter — and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority still has no strategy to get thousands of people off the street any time soon. Bureaucratic inertia is at least as a big a hurdle as neighborhood opposition to specific projects.

During recent fires, officials announced the location of emergency shelters within hours of deploying first responders to burning homes. Victims of natural disasters are not left to sleep on our streets, but refugees from economic hardship, gentrification, a housing shortage, domestic violence, sexual abuse, addiction and mental illness are left to fend for themselves in the elements. That is unacceptable and intolerable.

We must insist on a range of immediate options for housing and shelter — even if it means using every available city facility, and every church or temple in Los Angeles. If we don’t, encampments will proliferate, and men, women and children will continue to live on our streets by choice — our choice.



Comments (2)

  1. Nick Antonicello

    The homeless epidemic and crisis has spiraled out of control on Mr. Bonin’s watch, pure and simple.

    His idea of solutions is to make local hotels a slum or ghetto?

    Why isn’t spreading the solution across Los Angeles by using eminent domain seizure of properties in disrepair or in lieu of back property taxes?

    There are thousands of units of private housing that can be used to get these individuals off the streets and passing new ordinances and legislation that prohibits living on the streets.

    He has had 5 years to do something, anything and in the end nothing has worked or been implemented.

    How he is not embarrassed by his inability to lead or solve the problem is truly amazing for someone who has ambitions beyond the LA City Council.

    Keep on electing those who can’t get anything done and this is the end result. Incredibly, no one seems to care.

  2. Anonymous

    Mike Bonin is full of himself. The idea that all the homeless are here by “our choice” is wrong. The truth is they’re coming in droves by “Mike Bonin’s choices.” His choice to offer up the limited resources of LA and its great weather to every mentally ill man or woman who themselves have made bad choice to come here from every corner of the USA. And when he says he’s offered hundreds of such units in his district, he’s full of it. All of those units are in Venice (which he conveniently left with his partner and child for Mar Vista). No such units in mar vista or brentwood or pac palisades. Hmm, conincidence? Mike Bonin is a hack with his plan to “end homelessness” – its really a corrupt money transfer to his developer cronies in exchange for backing his run for LA Mayor. But guess what happens when LA turns into Mad Max/Bladerunner squalor of decay with hundreds of thousands of homeless druggies all over? Yeah, the electorate will want that 2 billion dollars from HHH and Measure H back.

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