Palisades Homeless Task Force Hosts Forum

A heavy-set homeless woman, with long hair, usually sleeps overnight in the Palisade Branch library alcove. Sometimes she’s joined in the space by other homeless individuals.

On June 8, she was seated on the bench in front of the Palisades Branch Library, drinking a soda. As the woman watched cars and kids go by that afternoon, one wondered if she was aware of the meeting that was being held inside that was focusing on the homeless.

Local, city and county officials met to discuss the homelessness problem.

Local, city and county officials met to discuss the homelessness problem.

About 50 people met to discuss best practices for addressing the homeless in beach communities. Participants included representatives from Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Hermosa Beach and the South Bay Coalition to End Homelessness.

The audience included members of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, the Community Council and Ocean Park Community Center. But the meeting, chaired by Stephanie Cohen, Assemblyman Richard Bloom’s senior field representative, seemed to be an opportunity for officials to compare notes.

Mayor Garcetti’s Daniel Tam reminded the audience that “The city is not going to solve the problem, it will be all of us—you and I.”

Garcetti has announced a Welcome Home Project that involves 100 gatherings to assemble 100 baskets of items that can be used by a homeless person (or family) who is moving into an apartment or shelter. E-mail addresses of participants are collected for future engagement opportunities and the host delivers the basket filled with towels, kitchen utensils, etc. to one of 12 fire stations. On June 18, Big Move-in volunteers will gather the baskets and deliver them to homes/shelters. Visit: lamayor.org/volunteer.

Melissa Miller of the Mayor’s office said that Garcetti had made the homeless “one of the top priorities for his administration.” He is promoting three pillars: 1.) housing, 2.) preventing people from becoming homeless and 3.) street engagement.

About $138 million has been budgeted for next year for housing and supportive services and will come mostly from the general fund, according to a June 2 announcement from Garcetti.

Additionally, the city is also working towards a “Healthy Street” program, which includes requiring all homeless tents taken down from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. (unless there is rain); keep sidewalks clear so pedestrians and people in wheelchairs can pass; keep a 10-ft. distance from doors and driveways; limit personal property to no more than 60 gallons; not to fasten or tie anything to private or government property.

At the meeting, the annual homeless count by LAHSA (Los Angeles Homeless

Services Authority, established by L.A. County and the city) found that Pacific Palisades has an estimated 192 homeless individuals.

Two OPCC social workers, Glanda Sherman and Maureen Rivas (hired in January by the Palisades task force), said they regularly interact with 50 to 60 homeless people. Fifteen of them have either moved into temporary shelter or are in the process of getting off the streets. Some have housing vouchers, but no place to live.

Although they have vouchers to help make up the difference on rents, there is a shortage of apartments.

One woman, who identified herself as a landlord, said she wasn’t going to take any more vouchers.

She explained that one tenant pays $85 a month towards rent. The remainder of the money comes from the government. In order for the woman to keep that subsidy, she must attend appointments, but has not.

The landlord received notice from the government that because the woman wasn’t going to appointments they would no long- er subsidize the rent after June 30. “I can’t carry her,” the landlord said.

The landlord said she had repeatedly called the city to try and help the woman, but no one would return her call. Molly Rysman from Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s office said she’d take care of it because the county was working on “having a person you can call when there is a problem.”

James Latta, the human services administrator for Beverly Hills, said he urges people not to give transients handouts. “Giving money allows them to stay in place and they won’t take help. I don’t give money or food, but I give services.”

He said that when people give a transient $10, it makes the giver feel better, but doesn’t help the transient. “Real change, not spare change,” is the sign in Beverly Hills.

Malibu, which is adopting the Palisades model for dealing with the homeless, had a LAHSA count of 161. The Malibu task force has signed a letter of commitment with OPCC and will start fundraising.

It was announced that Doug McCormick will be the new PPTFH president, succeeding Maryam Zar, who will become president of the Community Council in July.

By Sue Pascoe
Editor

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