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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Homeless Committee Unanimously Passes Bridge Housing Coupled with “Community Benefits Agreement”

Those Against
Those For

By Angela McGregor

Monday night’s Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Homeless Committee meeting attracted a packed house equally divided among those supporting and those opposing the motion to support Bridge Housing in Venice coupled with a Community Benefits Agreement (CBE).

VNC Board President Ira Koslow, who presided over the meeting in order to allow all Board members (including VHC Chair Will Hawkins) speak on the measure, pointed out at the onset of public discussion that the Committee was approving merely the “concept” of Bridge Housing in Venice, not a final project. He stated that he had spoken with Councilman Mike Bonin’s office and, as yet, no final details on the project are available, including the location. “This is the first step of the process,” he told the crowd, some of whom were holding up placards opposing the project. “It’s not the last.”

The motion (the entirety of which can be found here: http://www.venicenc.org/docs/34484446-7554.pdf) contains the following language:

Now, therefore be it resolved, the Venice Homeless Committee supports the concept of executing Bridge Home in Venice for no longer than three years and along with the execution of a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) between the neighborhood of Venice and the City of Los Angeles

May it be therefore resolved that:

1.Those in the CES system be prioritized for placement.

2.Only homeless from Venice be admitted.

3.Every six months or sooner a report is produced to outline the outcomes of

individuals that have transitioned through Bridge Home.

4.A yearly public meeting is organized by the Mayor’s office to discuss the program’s effect on the neighborhood.

Finally may it be further resolved, the CBA contain and guarantees the stakeholders of

Venice that agreed upon conditions will be binding and ongoing to hold the city accountable

for certain agreed upon conditions through the term of the bridge housing’s execution.

Included in this CBA the city should agree to ensure basic program elements such as these examples…a) security, b) sanitation, c) housing placement services, d) reunification, e) sober coaching, f) job placement services, g) green space/community garden, h) social enterprise, and i) specific commitments from LAPD HOPE team and a Senior Lead Officer from LAPD designated specifically for this facility.

First to speak was Venice Deputy Taylor Bazley. He offered an overview of Bridge Housing as proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti: The MTA has already entered into a joint development to build permanent housing on the site in 3 years or so. He stated that the facility’s residents will be “good neighbors” and the project will include onsite management, security, and rules. In addition, communities with Bridge Housing will receive “significant” additional funding to clean up encampments.

Speakers were equally divided on opposite sides of the room. Supporters felt that bridge housing would improve existing conditions by providing a “triage” facility for homeless willing to accept services, providing them with a safe space in which to receive such services prior to being re-housed.

Opponents were primarily concerned with public safety issues, and many of them lived in close proximity to the St. Joseph’s Center and have seen their quality of life decline precipitously with the opening of that facility.

Those who currently live close to the MTA lot stated they simply do not trust the city’s assurances that their safety concerns will be met, and aren’t convinced the facility won’t attract yet more homeless to Venice.

Supporters countered that not all homeless are addicts, mentally ill or criminals, and that refusing to offer such services seemed self-defeating as well as selfish. In addition, one speaker in favor of the project pointed out that homeless teens, in particular, are in desperate need of such a facility.

One speaker in opposition pointed out that first responders in the area are already clearly overwhelmed and unable to deal with existing crime, and so the city’s promises that such a facility would result in additional police presence rang false.

Another speaker opposed felt the facility — 4 acres in the middle of a residential neighborhood in the heart of Venice — seemed far too large and “too big to work”, as well as “too much money for too little housing”.

Yet another speaking in opposition pointed out that, contrary to assurances that Bridge Housing will allow encampments to be cleaned up, Councilman Mike Bonin has already been quoted in various news outlets as saying that such enforcement, now that the conditions of the Jones Settlement have been met, is “unlikely”.

In the interest of time management, Ira Koslow shut down commentary after ten speakers from each side had spoken, which enraged a few speakers who weren’t able to speak against the project, so much so that they were ultimately ejected from the meeting.

Once things quieted down, the Homeless Committee Board took up discussion. Board member Brian Ulf stated that the CBA being considered must be enforceable, and that “transparency will be key” to the project’s success. He said that the facility will result in homeless willing to accept services having a place to go to receive them, while those who are unwilling can be told to leave. Will Hawkins stated that he “believes in this project” and wants Venice to be the “first through the wall” when it comes to solutions that can actually begin to alleviate homelessness in Los Angeles.

The Board voted in favor of the Motion, 7-0. This motion will now go to the VNC Board for approval. The next meeting of the VNC Board is Tuesday, August 21st at 7pm at Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Comments (8)

  1. reta

    Chris regarding photo…the lighting in the room was so unconducive to taking or making a good photo. Sorry.
    … Wendy Kaysing has got a grasp on the overall program and the big picture but LA is not conducive to redoing a mall yet. The Pico mall is being vacated. They are going to put in offices.
    … To all — read the LAHSA Bridge Housing Rules (story on the web). LAHSA will establish a manager for the project. I have never heard SHARE mentioned. The People Concern is the group servicing El Pueblo. When El Pueblo is up and running, we will all know more.
    … Yolanda Gonzalez is trying to get an expert from Rand to speak at the next VNC meet. Lady is the expert on Bridge Housing, and it is possible, she doesn’t approve. Well worth the listen.

  2. Rick Swinger

    I think Brian Ulf is a nice guy too but thats a very huge conflict of interest! Now the question is why Will Hawkins and the rest of the VNC homeless committee allowed this to happen?

  3. This article omits the names of members of the VNC Homeless Committee, which I post below (and are also here: http://www.venicenc.org/homeless-committee.php ) so Venice working families can remember them when we go to vote. Half of whom (Groening, James, Ruiz and Ulf) are not even elected members of the VNC. Also, Brian Ulf is on the Board of SHARE, which is set to get the contract for the MTA Lot. Conflicted but did not recuse himself from “debate” or vote.

    Will Hawkins,Chairman — william.hawkins@venicenc.org
    Hollie Stenson
    Brian Ulf
    Sunny Bak
    Matt Shaw
    Peter Ruiz
    Deborah Groening
    Elisa James

    • vicki halliday

      Christian is correct. Unfortunately, Ulf is one of the more logical and more thoughtful people on the committee. It was a rubber stamp vote that will long be remembered as little more than a political ploy.

      • I overstated SHARE’s role in the MTA Lot Mega-Shelter. They have been added to the list of service providers for the MTA Lot Mega-Shelter, but my statement that they are “set to get the contract” for the MTA Lot Mega-Shelter is an overstatement. I apologize for that inaccuracy.

        That said, in my view, nobody with any affiliation with any service provider that stands to benefit financially or otherwise should be voting on the MTA Lot (or any other projects in Venice).

        Social Service Providers have been devouring Venice for decades. They all need to step off and let Venice residents decide their future.

  4. Anonymous

    This all will not end well. It is not only Venice. A friend visited Santa Barbara recently and found much of the same as here, except, less concentrated, and check this out from San Francisco:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld6qYJe4pRs

  5. Venice guy

    The residents of Venice will live to regret this in the next housing down turn. Property values will crash.

  6. “Those strategies include development of 60 temporary shelters like the one at El Pueblo. Right now, however, the city only has money budgeted for about one quarter of that amount.” (from Curbed LA -Designers envision shelters for LA’s homeless residents and “…secure…support” for future shelter” By Elijah Chiland Jul 31, 2018 MY COMMENT: Use the money earmarked for shelters to provide inexpensive PERMANENT housing for all who need it. Shelters building is expensive plus only a stop gap measure. Only a small percentage of homeless will be helped. Better to build permanent co-housing like they have done in Denmark, or convert our empty malls, schools or hospitals to permanent housing. See the first mall in America conversion in Rhode Island –providing permanent “micro” apartments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1BjQKAuE2U

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