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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Stats for Venice and Other City Bridge Homes with Costs

CJ Cole, member of Venice Neighborhood Council and the homeless committee, asked Nisa Kove, Venice Field Deputy, for a breakdown of the Venice Bridge Home on Sunset. This is the first time detailed information has been provided for the Venice Bridge Home designated for 100 adults, 54 youth.

Venice Update, which covered the opening of El Pueblo the first such site in 2018, has had trouble getting detailed information regarding the sites. Apparently, the City is starting to release statistical results for many of the bridge homes that have come on line recently.

CJ Cole also supplied a link to a new online newsletter called “LAist” which shows the stats for various bridge homes and their costs. It is he first time result figures and costs have been published to this extent for the bridge homes.

LAist article.

Wilhite Answers a Few Questions Regarding Venice Bridge Home

Allison Wilhite, deputy director of Bridge Home, gave an update of Venice Bridge Home in answer to some questions.

Shawn Stern, who lives across the street and can see much of the activity, had questions regarding the capacity that prompted Venice Update to ask questions.

Wilhite answers to Venice Update questions were:

Regarding capacity at site, I want to clarify a few things. First, for a few weeks now, the 6-bed bungalow in the youth area has intentionally been kept empty in order to serve as a quarantine area on site should any residents develop symptoms of COVID-19. If that happens, the resident will be moved to this bungalow until DPH and LAHSA can arrange for them to move to an isolated room, likely at a hotel / motel.

Second, the adult section is filled. There are a few youth beds to still fill, and LAHSA and SPY are working closely to fill them as soon as possible with youth from the Venice area. In positive news, we did have a youth or two reunite with family and move out of the A Bridge Home, as well as several more were matched to a housing resource and are working toward finalizing that process.

Please note, a few residents who are identified as being highly vulnerable because of age and underlying health conditions are being moved to hotel / motel rooms out of an abundance of caution.

Stern Reports What is Happening at Venice Bridge Home

Note:This is a letter from Shawn Stern to Councilman Mike Bonin. Shawn lives across the street to the Venice Bridge Housing Project. He is the person who provided the Venice Update with photos of the project as it progressed. These are his observations of the project and its operation.

Council Member Bonin,

I live directly across the street from Venice Bridge housing and from what I see everyday there are perhaps 30-50 homeless people sheltered in a space designated for 154. When I go riding my bike through Venice and Santa Monica there are at least 100-200 people living on the boardwalk, 3rd & 4th Street south of Rose and Hampton as well as scattered throughout the neighborhoods. Why isn’t the Bridge housing full during this time of a pandemic? You want to help, yet the project you supported that has cost millions of tax payer $ sits at less than 1/3 capacity more than 40 days after opening.

Within the first days of opening, I had to let Security and staff know that the delivery entrance on Pacific was wide open and homeless people were wandering in and out. There was no lock on that gate the first 24 hours until I went to the front and told the security guard, who complained to me that they didn’t have enough radios. A lock has been on the gate since, but deliveries are made with no security supervision, so the gate is opened and residents are able to come and go, which is a safety concern.

There is constant yelling, screaming and bickering between residents as well as with homeless from the neighborhood stopping by. I was woken by a very loud verbal altercation Monday at 3am in the pouring rain between a resident inside the Pacific Ave delivery gate and 2 homeless men outside the gate on Pacific avenue cursing and threatening each other with violence. I’d say that it was hardly a chance encounter that the men happened to be arguing at 3am in the pouring rain, but there was no security anywhere in sight.

About 10 days ago I was verbally accosted by a young man as I watched him jump the fence around 12:30pm. He was leaving the facility and when I told him residents needed to use the main entrance, he told me he “just went in for the free lunch” and rode off on his bicycle cursing & yelling at me. The under 18 group of young people treat the space as a 24 hour playground, constantly yelling and screaming & fighting in the huge echo chamber of concrete that reverberates throughout the neighborhood at all times of the day and night.There are residents drinking and getting high on the sidewalks and alleys all around the space before they go in.

There are constant homeless people stopping by the gate on Pacific talking to residents inside and exchanging items through the fence. Security does nothing. There has been a very noticeable increase in homeless sleeping, arguing, yelling, urinating and defecating all around the perimeter of the MTA lot and in the streets and alleys surrounding the space. There has been NO enforcement of the Special Enforcement and Cleaning Zone (SECZ) around Bridge Home Venice.

In your email you talk about the Mayors advisory to wear masks, to social distance, to stay at HOME and your work to help the homeless, yet the project that you champion practices none of this. I have observed no social distancing being practiced & only recently have I seen anyone wearing masks and the few that do mainly seem to be staff. Residents come and go during the day, which increases the inevitability that someone will contract coronavirus and bring it back to the residents. This is a disaster waiting to happen & I have been asking for weeks for answers from staff at the facility and your office and the response has been that CDC guidelines are being followed, yet not the city guidelines? WHY?

You say you truly care about the homeless but when you and the staff of SPY and PATH are not implementing safety rules for the homeless at Bridge Home it seems to me that none of you are acting in the best interest of the residents. There are elderly and disabled residents there and it’s highly likely that many residents have health issues and are the most vulnerable to the virus and I don’t see anything being done for them.

You want support and cooperation from the neighborhood, then do more than lip service and start leading. Take control of Bridge Home Venice and implement safety protocols, social distancing, masks and stop allowing residents to come and go where they can easily contract the virus and bring it back to those who are staying inside. Have security do their job and secure the facility, stopping people from entering the facility by jumping fences, walking through the delivery gate & having items exchanged through the fence. Continuing the barbed wire from the existing fencing of the MTA lot across the approx. 50’ of new fencing by the gate would also help.

If you can afford to put up a TV satellite dish for the residents (that happened yesterday), you can certainly afford to enhance security for resident and staff safety. Implement noise and good neighbor rules so the loud screaming and yelling is at least enforced after 10pm and before 9 am. Fill the beds in the space, get the homeless off the street and HELP THEM stay safe from the virus.

And be transparent by reporting the problems and your proposed solutions to the neighborhood if you want support. Ignoring the problems and outright denial only makes them worse and if you truly care about helping the homeless and having the support of Venice residents then prove it.

Shawn Stern
Sunset Ave
Venice resident for over 35 years

SEC Zone Started Monday As Originally Planned

Allison Wilhite, deputy for the Venice Bridge Home, says the Special Enforcement and Cleaning Zone (SECZ) started Monday, 9 March.  Just an hour or so ago Venice Update reported Update didn’t know when the SEC Zone would start because Update was not answered when it queried.

This is a new project.  Everyone is working to make the home for the 154 people feel like a home where they are safe, fed, and free to get off addiction, free to get a job, free to start their life all over.  That opened for people to start moving  in the 25tth of February — two weeks from last Monday.  It should be filled this week.

Monday, 9 March, the SECZ started as planned.

Since then it has been a mad house to get the other things working that have been planned for the SECZ.  It appears to be an hour-by-hour  story as the services unfold.

Update just reported a story of the 3rd Ave as one of the worst streets.  Apparently, a Care Team has been on the street Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and coming up this Friday to pick up needles, trash, hazardous waste.  Friday a team will be there to enforce LAMC 56,11, which should take most of the debris.

The police cannot enforce the tents down rule because of the rain.  But, Update, has been assured that there is a car with two police men assigned to the SEC zone.

Once again the following explains the enhanced services provided to the area.  It does take time for all services to start and get moving.

 

 

Should be full house at Bridge Home by end of week according to Willhite

Status of the Venice Bridge Home … By the end of the week the 54 youth beds should be filled; the 100 adult beds are filled. These figures are from Allison Wilhite, Venice Deputy for the Bridge Home.

Venice Update even received an email from a youth or an adult as to whether the Update knew if he had been selected for the Bridge Home. He was directed to his case worker. The Venice Update has no knowledge of who is selected.

Still pending is the question of when the SEC zone will start.

Do not know when the SECZ will become effective

Venice Update has both called and emailed Allison Wilhite, Venice deputy for the Bridge Home, to see when the enforcement of the SEC zone will start. It was announced earlier that it was suppose to start 9 March. No such answer.

SEQZ refers to a Special Enforcement and Cleaning Zone that is from 4th St to Speedway and Westminster to Navy both sides of the street.


Note: That tents down would not be enforced while there is a rain forecast.

Wilhite made the statement 4 March “There are requests from the community that we delay it longer, even upwards of 90 days, but we are hopeful these two weeks will let our outreach teams and on site service providers do their work to open the site successfully.”

Venice Update knows of no one making such requests. To the contrary, people are asking without response why this has not been initiated as promised.

Two Bridge Home Residents Thank Venice Residents for Their Beds at Night

“We should put “Thank You” signs up for all you people,” said Howie as he raised his arms wide to show the sign size in sincere gratitude for his bed No. 17 at the new Venice Bridge Home. “You’re the ones who made it possible<” he said as he looked at me and everyone on the street.

By that time Buda was part of the conversation too and he added and pointed to people in the street “and you and you and you all made it possible. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Well, if anyone wonders if these two are grateful , or if you don’t get the point after reading this story, please contact the Venice Update.

Saturday afternoon I decided to get out of my car and walk around the newly opened Bridge Housing project at Sunset between Main and Pacific. In fact, the project is not fully occupied yet but should be full soon. Several negative things have been reported. I had driven by at all times of the day and night and never saw anyone walking on the sidewalk. So I parked, put my six-pounder on a leash, and walked around the premises. Thought I would take a sneak peak thru the fence. Just as I got to, apparently, the entrance/exit gate, out came Howie. We almost bumped into each other.

We started an instant conversation and it was as if we had been friends for years and he wanted to tell me about his new digs. He was so happy. He was on his way to play guitar at the the Waterfront Cafe on Ocean Front Walk. He said “You know I really like to be clean.” He obviously had just taken a shower. “I can’t stand to be dirty and being on the street, I was always dirty,” he said as he looked at his arm. “I got scabs sometimes.” Venice has sand fleas and they bite.

Howie said he had lived at Market for seven years. He was originally from Boston and came to Venice via Las Vegas.  He plays guitar at the Waterfront Cafe and use to help push the piano out for the man who plays the piano at the Sidewalk Cafe during the day. He said he had worked in construction and would be happy to do odd jobs.

Buda was about to go in the gate but Howie introduced me to him and so Buda joined the conversation. Buda, who said his bed was No. 26 or 28, was born and raised in Venice. Went to all the Venice schools and ended up living on Canal Street in car ports. He had a pit bull named Penelope. When Penelope started to get friendly with my six-pound, hairy tid-bit for Penelope, I turned around. Hooter (the six-pounder) was telling Penelope she had gone far enough with the nose. Both Howie and Buda assured me noting would happen. Howie said she use to “growl at me when she passed but we have all settled in and feel so good about everything that even the dogs feel that way too. What a nice way to say one feels secure or what a unique way to measure security, measure peace.  “Now Penelope doesn’t growl at me or anyone.”

Howie said he was in his 60’s. He told me the exact number but I forgot. He said the staff was going to help him get social security. Eligible people on the street do not apply because of transportation, lack of papers, knowledge of how to do it. Both said they were told they would probably have Section 8 housing within three months and they were thrilled about that prospect. I don’t remember if I asked Buda how long he had been on the street but I have the feeling it was longer than Howie. Buda was in his 50’s.

I asked Howie if he drank or did drugs. He said he has an occasional beer and likes to smoke weed. It calms him down he said as he lit a cigarette or a marijuana cigarette.

Both Howie and Buda said the Home won’t allow drugs or alcohol on the premises so they both said they would not. They were too happy with their new digs to jeopardize that situation. One person had already been removed, probably the one who smashed car windows.  These two also said they loved the staff. I don’t know whether Buda used drugs or alcohol. I forgot to ask. It didn’t look like he did. Buda said he understood that Venice people were upset about the Bridge Home. He said “You guys worked hard to live here.”

About that time Antoine was going in the gate. They introduced me to him and Antonine said he was really happy to be chosen to be in the Bridge Home. I think Howie and Buda said he had lived in Venice all his life too. People introduce themselves and give their bed number… that is their address.  Not everyone in Venice has an address.  Howie said he lived on Market or at Market.  Buda said he lived in car ports at Canal Street.

All three showed a grateful face that cloaked another life.

Just as I was about to film Howie and Buda, a man tried to take a bike away from a gal who was riding it about 50 feet away. Buda, who saw it first, started yelling at the guy and going that way. The man left the scene. The gal got off the pavement, and retrieved her bike.

Then Buda said he had better go in. I don’t want them to think I had anything to do with it. I said well you didn’t. I was here and would tell them you stopped it. But he didn’t want to jeopardize his position with his new found home. Life is fragile sometimes.

Oh, my goodness. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Mike Bonin, you could not have provided two poster boys for the Bridge Home greater than these two.

“No Trespassing” Signs Need to be Posted on Sunset Easement as Well as Thornton

Last week it was announced that the Bridge Home project would be installing “No Trespassing” signs on the Thornton easement from Main to Pacific. They need to be installed on the Sunset easement too. This lady was moving her “stuff” to the easement on Sunset.

Bridge Homes Opening Throughout Los Angeles

Bridge Homes, shelters, semi-permanent facilities etc are opening throughout Los Angeles according to article in the LA Times. Article also said that as of Thursday, the Venice Bridge Housing had placed 58 adults out of 100 and 26 of the 54 youths 18 to 24. LA Times article.

Venice “Bridge Housing” Explained by SPY Director Alison Hurst at Open House

Alison Hurst, SPY director, explains how things work for the youth and the adults.