By Laurel Busby
Scott Beal read about the endeavors of the Pacific Palisades Community Council’s Task Force on Homelessness in November and decided to get involved.
He both donated $15,000 and joined the task force to provide not just his money but also his time in their effort to address homelessness.
“The current problem of our time is the homeless crisis,” Beal, 51, said. “You can see the explosion in the problem. That’s why I got involved to try and help the situation. I really believe that we all have a responsibility to take care of each other.”
Beal, a former mortgage broker who now owns several apartment complexes, attends the task force’s meetings as a new member. He also spends about eight hours each week patrolling the Via Bluffs, Portrero Canyon and Temescal Canyon Park to look for and report camps. Like other volunteers, he hands out cards to the homeless folks he encounters to help connect them to social services programs via the Ocean Park Community Center. Through this and other task force work, he has become acquainted with some homeless people in the area and has learned more about their varied difficulties.
For example, some struggle with mental illness, which makes normal American life particularly hard.
“You and I are only a small genetic strand away from being psychotic or schizophrenic,” Beal said. “We all know people who have not been so blessed. That doesn’t mean we’re better. It just means we’re lucky . . . I do think that people who are born with so much should be sensitive to others that aren’t born with the same deck of cards.”
In his efforts, Beal is not only trying to help the homeless, he’s also trying to make sure that Palisadians are safe. For example, he wants to ensure that child molesters or people who might create fires in the brush do not reside in the area.
“You meet some of these guys and your heart goes out to them,” Beal said. “Some can’t function the way most of us can and as a result becomes homeless, but some other people, they’re dangerous to society . . . I want to help children in the neighborhood too. That definitely means not having a convicted child molester living in the bush.”
Beal and his wife, Victoria, have three children, Briana, 15, Ashley, 13, and Chase, 10. A Santa Monica High graduate, Beal moved from Santa Monica to Pacific Palisades in 2002. A few years before, he had bought an apartment building as a hobby, and eventually the hobby outgrew his work as a loan broker at Mortgage Capital Partners and other Westside firms. He now owns apartment buildings in Mar Vista, Culver City, Plano and Salt Lake City.
This new path was both more fun and more lucrative than his work as a broker, and it has given him both a new type of business knowledge and free time to help the community. When he read a Palisades News article about the task force, he was intrigued by the group’s successful efforts in combatting homelessness.
“I just feel like we need to try to do something here,” Beal said. “They had a proven system . . . I believed in what they were doing in helping some of these permanent people get off the streets. Money is easy to give away. There’s plenty of people with checkbooks in the Palisades. The bigger stretch is to get the commitment and the time to do something. It appears to me we have done that.”