City Manager Rick Cole is requesting a new, fulltime staff member dedicated to working on the city’s growing homeless problem.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, manager Cole will ask the council to approve more than $320,000 to fund the position through the 2018-19 fiscal year. According to the staff report, the new hire will oversee the City’s comprehensive homeless efforts and work with neighboring communities to implement regional solutions.

“Naming a Senior Advisor for Homelessness to focus exclusively on the issue out of the City Manager’s Office would locate policy, program, and resource development in the executive office, create new capacity for intergovernmental and community relations to better leverage and coordinate our partnerships with regional agencies, Los Angeles County and nearby cities, as well as enlist residents, businesses, civic organizations, houses of worship and local non-profits in collaborative action,” said the report.

Santa Monica reported a 26 percent increase in homeless individuals during the annual count this year and Los Angeles County reported an increase of 23 percent. According to the report, which is signed by Cole, the City “will not accept that homelessness is inevitable” and Cole said the city will continue to invest local resources while working with nearby agencies on broader programs.

Some programs and staffing changes have already occurred to address the issue. City Hall has formed an interdepartmental Homeless Strategic Goal team that has worked on an action plan with seven specific goals: smart deployment of local resources, prove the efficacy of models that connect people to housing, increase availability of housing and services in other communities, ensure effective, safe, respectful use of the Library, active internal and external stakeholders, analyze the interventions that help people retain housing, and retain landlords and prevent homelessness among low-income SM residents.

New teams have also been formed partnering Human Services employees with police officers to make contact with homeless individuals and try to provide services whole collecting data on the scope of the problem.

In the report, Cole said hiring a dedicated employee for such work is not unusual within the region and said Santa Monica had previously employed former county supervisor Ed Edelman in a similar role. Cole said senior staff with the City Manager’s office used to have the time to devote to intergovernmental relations but as the demands of the city have progressed, that capacity has diminished, creating the need for a new position.

“Given the increasing gravity of the regional homelessness crisis and its local impact,

having a Senior Advisor for Homelessness as a member of the City Manager’s Office

could further our progress profoundly and meaningfully,” said the report.

Funding for the position would require a change to the budget. Cole is requesting $135,874 for nine months of staffing in FY 2017-18 and $186,732 for FY 2018-19.

Council will meet on Sept. 12 in City Hall, 1685 Main St. Closed session begins at 5:30 p.m.

editor@smdp.com

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