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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Heidi Roberts Replies to Councilman Bonin’s Email

Thank you for responding. Interesting that you are only now responding to me since I have been sharing with you my concerns about Venice Forward for months only to be met with the sound of silence. As a resident of Venice and one who helped you found Venice Forward, I would have expected the courtesy of a response earlier. Water under the bridge at this point I suppose since you have finally put so much energy into your response.

To be clear, there are no “misstatements” in my letter. You may disagree with my perspective and opinions, but they accurately reflect my experience. And though I am pleased by the housing numbers you have presented, I must question them – it has only been four months since I stopped attending Venice Forward meetings and those two year housing numbers you’re reporting on behalf of St. Joseph’s Center are not consistent with what was reported in those Venice Forward meetings. In fact, I recall that when statistics much lower than those were shared, many participants cried foul and some even threatened to resign as a result. They believed that the numbers were inflated and that St. Joseph’s was claiming success for clients that they had simply been in contact with but not housed – others had. I also recall examples of specific housing success stories, but then ironically, I would run into those same people back on the streets – in once case, the very same day. I brought this to your attention at that time but never received a response.

However, if the state of success has shifted dramatically in the last few months and the numbers you have shared are indeed accurate, it would be wonderful for the community to be presented with a summary of them so that they can be duly acknowledged and celebrated. I would also suggest that St. Joseph’s update the front page of its website, for here is what it currently claims:

St. Joseph Center helps the most vulnerable homeless individuals move from the street into permanent supportive housing. Since 2009 we have helped more than 250 chronically homeless men and women from Santa Monica and Venice move into their own apartments, with a retention rate of 94%. We also offer street outreach, emergency services, crisis intervention, case management and referrals in Venice, Santa Monica, Culver City, and other Westside communities.

I strongly resent your attempt to link my concern about the Senior Center conversion with its proximity to my home. Note that my home is equal distance to the MTA bus yard and Ocean Front Walk. Painting this as a NIMBY issue is simply wrong, especially since you know that I have personally housed homeless people – in my own home – who have been on a path shifting off the streets of Venice. Clearly, it’s not that I do not endorse a program that truly helps the homeless near my home. It’s that I do not endorse the program that has not proven effective at half its size a few blocks away (the OFW storage program that has been in existence for years). As you and I both agree, more of the same creates more of the same.

Again, thank you for your energetic response. I look forward to more dialog in the future and I certainly hope that my opinions and the state of homelessness can be shifted in the coming years.

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