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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Homeless Committee Gets Bridge Housing Update; Agrees on Funding Changes and Facial Masks

By Angela McGregor

Thursday night’s Zoomed meeting of the VNC’s Homeless Committee began with a welcome from Chair Frank Murphy (co-chair Charles Rials was not present) to the Committee’s two newest members: VNC at-large Board Members CJ Cole and Vicki Halliday. Also present were Brian Ulf, Michael Rapkin and Liz Wright.

First on the agenda was an update on the Bridge Housing facility at Main & Rose from Nisa Kove, formerly a VNC Board member, now Venice Field Deputy to Mike Bonin’s office. She began with an overview of legal restrictions on the city’s ability to manage encampments in Venice, and an acknowledgement that many residents are frustrated. Due to CDC recommendations that tents be kept up full time, it is now legal to sit, sleep or lie on public right of way at any time of the day or night. Furthermore, an injunction from a Federal court has made it illegal to collect bulky items without storage, 24 hour advance posting (and the City is having difficulties identifying storage locations). Finally, comprehensive cleaning by Sanitation is not allowed, only spot cleaning.

Allison Willhite, who had been the City’s liaison for the Bridge Housing facility, has moved on and Nisa, for the time being, will be taking over her role. Nisa stated that she had just had a meeting with the Mayor’s office regarding neighborhood concerns about drug use in and around the facility, crime, and people coming in and out, and stated the City was “taking this very seriously”. Part of the problem, she said, is the lack of availability of services & people due to Covid-19 concerns about social distancing — for example, Bridge Housing can’t have same number of counselors, and there are no one on one meetings between clients and outreach. Currently, SPY has 9 empty beds at the facility reserved for clients under 25, while PATH has 6 for older clients. Since the facility opened in February, there was been just 1 reunification.

Board commentary reflected the neighborhood’s frustration. In particular, Brian Ulf chastised the city for using the current crisis to justify longstanding shortcomings, and pointed out that the Bridge Housing facility has an additional 1.5 unused acres that could be used for storage. Board members agreed that Venice has reached the end of its rope with regard to the growth in encampments and needs “action steps”. Nisa responded that Bonin is waiting to hear back from Judge Carter, who in mid-May issued an injunction requiring the City to provide immediate shelter for homeless living under freeways , and with whom Bonin recently visited the Rose/Penmar encampments, along with many nearby residents. Out of this meeting, a motion to put resources toward moving those Rose/Penmar campers into hotels and shelters was put forth. Nevertheless, the city is also stretched for services because it’s clear that new encampments are springing up all over the city on a weekly — if not daily — basis. (In fact, figures released today for the 2020 Homeless Count indicate that homelessness increased by over 14% in Los Angeles county last year. See: https://www.lahsa.org/news?article=726-2020-greater-los-angeles-homeless-count-results&ref=hc).

The Committee moved on to Motion 1, which stated, in part, “that the Venice Neighborhood Council calls upon the City of Los Angeles to immediately direct any and all funds (city, state and federal) available for homeless shelter and housing to the following, less costly models, towards the objective of housing all unsheltered homeless persons in two years”, listing a variety of options, including large tents and SHARE Collaborative Housing, and forbidding such facilities from being “installed or constructed within 200 feet of a residence, child care center, school or park”. As a Board member of SHARE, Brian Ulf recused himself from the motion.

VNC Board member Mark Ryavec, who authored the motion, stated that it came out of discussions with L.A. Alliance for Human Rights (https://www.la-alliance.org/), the litigants in the Judge Carter ruling, and was aimed at providing housing for 60% of the unhoused, in order to enable the City to be able to legally enforce the no sitting, standing or sleeping on public right of way laws. He also stated that, with budget cuts looming, it is imperative that Los Angeles come up with lower cost options for immediately housing the homeless, rather than relying on the high-cost, permanent housing solutions and temporary hotel and motel (“Project Room Key”) programs which would, in his opinion, leave tens of thousands still on the streets, where they are increasingly vulnerable to the ongoing pandemic. Most of the remaining public commentary was in agreement with the Motion, although one commenter pointed out that the only major outbreak of Covid among the homeless was at the Union Rescue mission, and began with a staff member there.

Board commentary began with Mike Rapkin, who had concerns that the motion would take money away from services and disregard the findings of housing experts who maintain that permanent housing is the correct solution. Frank Murphy found the language regarding limitations on where such facilities could be built to be “draconian” and to effectively forbid building them in Venice. Liz Wright proposed an amendment to take out this language, but it failed in a tie vote. Ultimately, the original motion was approved, 3-2-1.

Motion #2 would demand that the city cease and desist its planned installation of restrooms in the vicinity of Rose Avenue and fourth street. Since these restrooms have already been moved to a different location, the Board voted unanimously to table this motion.

Motion #3, resolved that “the Venice Neighborhood Council, through its website and social media, will encourage stakeholders who sew to make masks to be given to Venice’s homeless population, and the VNC Homeless Committee will set up logistics for manufacture and delivery”. Public commentary focused on the necessity that, in order to be effective, such cloth masks need to be laundered regularly — something the homeless are largely unable to do. Another solution, suggested by both members of the Board and Public — would be for the City to provide disposable masks for first responders and service providers to hand out among encampments. Liz Wright, the author of the motion, and Frank Murphy both pointed out, however, that the motion was also meant to generate a connection between residents and local homeless, which would not be accomplished by relying on the city. In the end, the motion passed, 4-1.

Both approved motions will further be discussed and decided upon by the VNC Board at their next meeting — Tuesday, June 16th, online.

Comments (5)

  1. Bog G

    Give them one way tickets to CHAZ/CHOP/Antifistan so they can live out their remaining days, weeks or what ever in paradise. Yes CHOP where shytforbrains go to die – hopefully sooner rather than later.

  2. Rick Swinger

    Don’t get me wrong I think Bonin and Garcetti should be held accountable for their failures here. Regardless the left and the right agree on the obvious fact we will need tent cities in order to shelter the homeless properly and rid our sidewalks from the health hazards this unregulated camping causes.

    • Freddy Keene

      Rick, people feel sorry for the homeless. 80% of these people are criminals who rob and steal. Bonin and Garcetti told the police hands off these criminals, who belong in jail not a tent. They’re is no compromise here if you want to take back the streets of Venice. This is what you get when you don’t get out and vote or recall vote to get rid of Bonin and Garcetti. 5 or 10 thousand residents protesting outside Bonin’s home daily would certainly make a difference.

  3. Rick Swinger

    Los Angeles Homeless populations up by double digits! We cannot afford not to do this! With Councilman Mike Bonin and Ben Carson of HUD both agreeing we need tent cities this is a great option! Ive been up to Mariposa and seen these tents myself and they are terrific! They come in different sizes and the largest is 14ft by 20ft by 7ft high and they last for 10 years making them the most cost effective ( just 37 cents per person/day amortized over 10 years) quickest, temporary housing option for the homeless and taxpayers on the market today! You can social distance 4 people in twin beds by 6ft in each tent! Message me if interested in these California made Canvas tents! They have been making these durable tents in California since the 1849 Gold Rush! https://i.imgur.com/3f6yIPK.jpg

    • Freddy Keene

      When Bonin gets involved the price per day will go from 37 cents per person per day to 37 thousand per person per day. All you have to do is look at his track record in providing homeless housing. Wake up Rick, Bonin is on the take from developers and he needs to be investigated by the FBI.

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