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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

LAHSA Defends Homeless Count

By Darryl DuFay

Over the past couple of years we have discussed the validity of the Annual Homeless Count/Survey. Now some questions are being asked about both.  Maybe we will get some answers, but not very hopeful since everyone involved has a vested interest.  Some interesting questions were brought out in LA Times article.

The Count/Survey is taken in two parts:  a Street Count, and Demographic Surveywhich has two separate groups – Adult and Youth (18-24).  

The Street Count in taken on one-day in the last two weeks of January.  The count is taken in the evening and no questions are allowed to be asked of the homeless.  The surveyors are all volunteers. Most survey from a car.  Just observational.  No one can or wants to validate what results are turned in.

The Demographic Surveys are taken by trained personnel from LAHSA.  This is the Survey where they get the data for their reports. They start this process in late January and can continue into February.  Can be taken in the daytime or nighttime. They sit down with the homeless person. Surveys are administered to approximately 20% of the homeless number.  They have separate survey forms for each group.  It is all voluntary for the homeless person.  No ID is asked for.  No names are asked.  Just initials may be taken but not verified.  No addresses because they are homeless.  Adults get a $5 Subway card.  Youth’s get a $10 MacDonald’s or Subway card.

The whole process besides the cards is kind of like the “stated incomes” that brought down the real estate markets in 2008.  “We ask, you tell, we don’t check on what you say, you get the money or a benefit.”  There are many unanswered questions about the validity of the whole Street Count and Demographic Survey procedures.

In the article most of the complaints are that the true number of the Street Count is undercounted. Others question, not in the article, the lax way the survey is taken with a reliance on guessing about how many are in a tent, shelter, vehicle, or on the ground under a blanket, etc.  They are not allowed to disturb the people and cannot use a flashlight.  Remember it is night time!

 

Homeless Count Breakdown Data Summary for Venice Submitted

Darryl DuFay submitted this breakdown of the LAHSA homeless count figures for 2017.  Note that the people who will qualify for the Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) are the six types listed in the health/disability  category and the ones under chronically homeless.  

These are the people who will be placed in the PSH housing designated for Venice.

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Venice 2 j

LA Homeless in City, County Increases

Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Homeless count taken in January and released 31 May shows that homeless count in City and County are higher. Figures for communities, such as Venice, have not been released.

See LA Times article.

DuFay Critiques the Homeless Count and the Survey

Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister, has the most often quoted definition of statistics. “There are three types of lies — lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

Mark Twain made it all a little less abrupt by saying, “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.”

Venetian Darryl DuFay says, “Information must be believable and verifiable if you are about to spend billions of dollars based on it.”

Darryl DuFay, armed with the 82-page 2016 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count Methodology, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) 2016 Homeless Count, and 2016 Homeless Training Guide has tried to translate numbers to situations or circumstances or has tried to make sense of what all these numbers mean. He has concerns.

By Darryl DuFay

First my concerns
1. We need two categories added to the Demographic Surveys. One category for “transients/travelers/ vacationers,” and the other for “service and shelter resistant.” This is critical information for Venice. Anecdotal responses by those familiar and interacting with the homeless place these aspects of “homeless” at the top of our list. There is great skepticism of the count information.

2. The discussion of homeless is complex, frustrating and very emotional. Much too often there cannot be a civil discussion. Any questioning of any aspect is immediately met with invectives that terminate the discussion. Hopefully, LAHSA will demonstrate an acknowledgment that there are aspects of homeless, such as above, that are worthy to have. While this churning issue is a wonderful political world to operate in, the homeless and the rest of us suffer.

3. The volunteers for the Street Count are to be thanked for their efforts. However, the constraints on the count and the experience needed as a counter, even with seasoned assistance, make the count number arguable.

4. In a critical, compacted community such as Venice, with a high number of “homeless,” weak and unverified information encourages the misuse or misdirection of resources and effort to assist those that need help the most.

The 2016 Count Itself
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) from January to March conducted this countywide count. It has four components: a Street Count, separate Demographic Surveys for Adults and Youths, and a Sheltered Count. The Youth Survey is sometimes referred to as the Youth Count.

The Street Count
They only count people, vehicles, and enclosures. No questions are asked. This is called a point-in-time count. On day, one time. Venice was counted on Wednesday, January 27 by volunteers, 18 years or older. At 8 pm. the volunteers received one hour of information along with training. They count while in a car or by walking. They use a tract map as a guide. There are eleven tracts in Venice. Driving is preferred in Venice. In the cars there is a driver, navigator, and one or two counters. The counters’ decisions are final, no discussion

The count is totally observational. You see! You record! Remember: “Don’t disturb anyone.” They look for signs of “homelessness” by appearance, behavior, and condition.

They write down the number of vehicle/enclosures — car, van, camper, tent, or make shift shelter. To identify “homeless” vehicles they look for vehicles in disrepair, parked by similar vehicles, fogged up windows, packed with belongings, or lights on inside.
People on the streets are also counted if they show signs of homelessness by their appearance, behavior, or condition.

“People Information” is gathered for adults over 18 and youths under 18. By sex, male, female, or gender unknown. By families– the number of adults; youth –the number and sex.

Observations at night are difficult because the flashlight they carry can only be used to illuminate their clipboards and never pointed in the direction of the person.

Note: If they can’t see, they can’t count! Also of interest is that all the photos showing homeless in the “Power Point” Street Count Training information were taken in the daytime, while the count is taken at night.

Demographic Surveys: Adult and Youth
The Demographic Survey is the time to confront and ask questions. It is a face-to-face, multiple-choice survey where the surveyor asks the question and writes down the answer. The Adult survey is four-pages and thirty-five questions. The Youth survey is nine-pages and forty-four questions. The surveys diverge only in that the questions for the Youth are oriented towards their age and life styles. This is a new survey.

Adult Survey: Only a 20 percent “sample” of “homeless” people is counted from 409 of the City of Los Angeles 2,053 census tracts. It was conducted countywide by LAHSA between January 15th and March 4, 2016. Time taken, unknown. Total data obtained was from 4,851 persons.

Youth Survey: Samples of census tracts were selected for an independent survey by the LAHSA’s youth team. The select tracts were assigned from three classifications for youths. “Youths were considered eligible if they were under 25 years of age and live on the streets or in areas unfit for human habitats….” How they were selected is not clear. Maybe just walking the tracts looking for “homeless” looking or acting. The survey date(s) and time of day taken are unknown but assumed to have occurred within the other survey/count dates. There is likely an undercount of the youthful population.

Review of the Surveys
They asks wide-ranging questions involving age, homelessness, race, veteran, medical history, employment, family, etc. No proof of identity is asked for. There are no names, only three initials are allowed. For Health questions about Mental Illness, Substance Abuse, Physical Disability, Chronic Health Issues, etc. no proof is required.

For taking the survey, you get a McDonald’s or Subway Card. Adults get $5, Youths $10. The surveys differ slightly at the start. Adults are asked if the person is homeless or in need of housing. If the answer is no, the surveyor goes to the end of the survey. Youth are asked if they want to take the Survey, their age, if 25 or older not eligible, and if they have taken the Youth Count survey this week. A second set of questions determines if they have been in a hotel, prison, home, shelter, during the past 30 days, if yes, they go to end of survey. All others take the full survey.

One area at the end of the survey is interesting and troublesome. It says: “Surveyor, did you observe/detect symptoms of the following:” Serious Health Conditions, Mental Illness, Alcohol or Drug Abuse, or No Observation. A person taking the survey already answered Health so don’t know if the end of survey applies or is just a double check, or gathering information for the person who did not complete the survey.

There are additional questions at the end of the Youth survey for the Surveyor to assess, “…what initially led you/your team to identify this young person as homeless? “
Sheltered Count

Taken during the three days of the Street Count from Jan 26-28. Surveyors go to the sheltered buildings. The City of Los Angeles sheltered homeless population is 11,073 and 30,393 unsheltered. Venice has 18 sheltered and 871unsheltered. The Venice sheltered are located in tract 273200.

LAHSA Counted 889 Homeless for Venice; Where Are They?

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) homeless count showed Venice had a decrease in homeless population from previous year of 1006 to 889, a decrease of 11.6 percent, while the council district (CD11) had an increase of 7.2 percent to 2529.   The count is always done in relation to the Federal Tract Map.

Darryl DuFay asked where are the homeless concentrated in Venice.  DuFay related the figures to the federal tract map and then broke the figures down further to show if they were in a vehicle, and what type, or if they were just on the street, or had some other type of enclosure.  If you want to find out how many homeless are in your area, locate you home in the tract map.  Then go to the chart and read the numbers for the tract.

LAHSA has “calculated” some of the figures, such as assuming that a camper has two people, unless otherwise shown.

By Darryl DuFay

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Mike’s Plan for “Ending Homelessness in Venice” on Prop HHH Brochure

Mikeplan
Councilman Mike Bonin presented his plan to End Homelessness in Venice, 29 March of this year. It has since been dubbed “Mike’s Plan” and the Councilman now refers to it as Mike’s Plan.

 

Councilman Mike Bonin has a mailer coming out in support of Proposition HHH, which would according to the brochure, “authorize $1.2 billion in bonds to build permanent supportive housing and affordable housing for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.” This money would be used to pay for the projects proposed in Venice.

Note: The Councilman asked if Update would post his brochure. Update posts flyers but this brochure-flyer could not be duplicated. Also Update does not normally print Proposition information but since this pertains to Venice and the homeless, the facts and figures have been reproduced here but not the photos.

Data from 2016 LAHSA Homeless Count

In Los Angeles there are 28,464 homeless individuals, of which 21,338 are not sheltered. Females make up 33 percent, males 67 percent

In Venice there are 758 homeless individuals, 72 family members. Females make up 19 percent, males 81 percent.

homeless1
This is a breakdown of the ages.

homeless2
This is a breakdown of the circumstances.

 

Mike’s Plan

BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING

MTA BUS YARD

Mike and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl have proposed that the former bus yard located at 100 Sunset Avenue in Venice be turned into housing, with a significant portion dedicated to affordable housing for people making at most 60% of the area median income (about $33,000 a year).

CITY PROPERTIES

The City is asking affordable housing developers to evaluate every city-owned property that is surplus, vacant or under-used and consider proposing housing there (alternatively, the city may sell the properties and use the funds to build housing elsewhere). The first round of properties under consideration are: a former Fire Station in Westchester, a former Animal Shelter in West LA, the former Street Services Yard in the Oxford Triangle, and the parking lot on the Venice Boulevard median.

 

PROVIDE HOMELESS HOUSING

WESTSIDE HOUSING

The neighboring community of Del Rey has recently welcomed a series of housing projects for the home- less, including: PATH Villas (23 units), Gateway Apartments (21 units) and Del Rey Square (12 units).

DELL/PACIFIC LOT

Mike is proposing building housing for the homeless at the surface parking lot located between North and South Venice Boulevard and Pacific and Dell avenues.

VENICE FORWARD

Venice Forward is a new collaborative created to more rapidly move people into housing. The cooperative venture between government, social service agencies, businesses, and residents embraces the “Housing First” philosophy, which rapidly moves people into housing and supportive services.

EXPANDING RAPID REHOUSING

The City is expanding its funding for Rapid Rehousing – rental subsidies and services. RRH is the most effective and efficient intervention for more than 50 percent of homeless individuals and families. RRH is also more cost effective than other options.

 

EXPANDED SERVICES AND OUTREACH

TREATING MENTAL ILLNESS

The County Department of Mental Health has reopened Exodus Recovery Treatment facility, and now offers Urgent Care beds for those in a mental health crisis. Additionally, the County funds and St. Joseph Center operates the Venice Chronic Homeless Assertive Case Management Team — an intensive Mental Health unit that focuses on treating the most vulnerable individuals on the street.

HEALTHCARE

Integrated mobile health teams now provide street-based health and mental health treatment to chronically homeless and severely mentally ill individuals in Venice. Integrated teams (supported by the County, City, and local nonprofits) reduce the number of costly emergency room visits by people living on the street.

TRAINING FIRST RESPONDERS

LAPD Officers are now being trained on how to best respond when interacting with people who might have a mental illness. Special teams include officers and mental health professionals who help assess people with mental illness in the field. LAPD and Bureau of Sanitation officials are now also working with homeless outreach specialists to provide shelter and housing to people living on the streets.

211 AND VENICE FORWARD

People concerned about homeless neighbors or people in crisis living on the streets can log on to www. VeniceForward.org to ask a service provider to respond. Residents may also call the County’s 211 line, and after selecting their language, dial 7 to be connected to a community resource adviser.

OUTREACH TEAMS

The City recently added additional Homeless Emergency Response Teams to offer services to people who are homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness, including direct emergency services and transportation, shelter, and outreach services to homeless encampment dwellers. Mike is supporting the work of LAPD Chaplains Regina and Steve Weller with a $62,000 grant. The Wellers have placed hundreds of homeless people in housing, focusing on family reunification and shared housing placements.

 

STREET STRATEGY

STORAGE

In order to keep our streets and sidewalks clean, the courts have made it clear that the City needs to offer people who are homeless alternatives to leaving their belongings on sidewalks. The City is asking Chrysalis to operate a voluntary storage program at the former Westminster Senior Center on Pacific Avenue.

SHOWERS

Lava Mae, a San Francisco-based non-profit that provides mobile showers for people who are homeless, is planning to launch a pilot program in Venice this fall.

BATHROOMS

The Department of Recreation & Parks will be opening some of the beach restrooms 24 hours per day to allow tourists and people who are homeless an alternative to defecating on public and private property.

SAFE PARKING

The City Council is considering legislation to create a program similar to one operated in Santa Barbara, allowing small numbers of people who live in their cars or RVs to park safely in non-profit, church or city parking lots overnight, where they have access to restrooms and can be connected with service providers.

 

PRESERVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING

 

MELLO ACT REFORM

Mike has proposed legislation to reform and strengthen the Mello Act, the law that protects affordable housing in the coastal zone, making it harder for developers to reduce or eliminate affordable housing in Venice.

SHORT-TERM RENTAL REGULATIONS

Mike has proposed legislation governing short-term rentals, preventing rogue operators from buying entire buildings, removing rental and affordable units from the market and converting apartments into permanent short-term rentals.