CITYWIDE — City officials got good news from the annual homeless count but they’ll push to do more at tonight’s City Council meeting.
While homelessness rose in Los Angeles County, it fell 5 percent in the city by the sea in 2013 and city officials said that the Police Department was among several organizations helping to curb the epidemic in its annual review of homelessness services.
SMPD’s Homeless Liaison Program Team was one of the major contributors to the decline in homelessness in the area, city officials said in a recent report.
The team is tasked with linking vulnerable residents with local services. In a fiscal year (2012-13) when calls for service regarding transients were up 18 percent, the number of jail bookings were down 38 percent, city officials said.
Still, the police booked 1,205 people who claimed they were homeless last fiscal year. That’s nearly one-third of all jail bookings in the city.
About a fifth of the Fire Department’s paramedic calls were for homeless individuals, which is up from the previous year, but the number of chronic callers dropped, officials said.
Several local initiatives are also contributing to the overall decreases in homelessness, officials said. The Santa Monica Service Registry, created in 2008, provides data on transients who find, or don’t find, housing.
The Homeless Community Court, which started in 2007, has served nearly 250 people with more than 100 being placed in homes as a result of the program.
In last year’s resident survey, 62 percent of respondents named the quantity of homeless people in Santa Monica as a serious problem.
In August, city officials surveyed homeless individuals and found that almost half of them had only been in the bay city for a year or less. They are not considered City Hall’s priority as defined by previous action plans, city officials said.
Officials said that increased Los Angeles Police Department presence in Venice has pushed some homeless people onto the city’s southern beaches. L.A. City Council is considering a ban on feeding homeless people, city officials said, and if passed it could push even more L.A. homeless into Santa Monica. A quarter of all of Santa Monica’s homeless report being from L.A. and another 22 percent report being from elsewhere in the county. Only 13 percent reported Santa Monica as their last permanent address.
This year, city officials want to focus on what they are calling “anchors” — Homeless people who hang around at the same locations, inviting other homeless to congregate in the area.
Last year, City Hall boosted funding for organizations that were trying to find housing for these anchors. Once housed, studies show that these anchors can draw more transients into housing, city officials said. City Hall and the police will continue in their push to house anchors in 2014.