Major homelessness plan to be presented to City Council

MATTHEW HALL
Daily Press Editor

Council will tackle homelessness with a major discussion at its Nov. 28 meeting.
The council will receive its annual Homelessness report at the meeting including dense proposals for addressing the local crisis.

The report calls for endorsing five concepts currently contained in the city’s Strategic Goal Action Plan including proactive engagement, smart deployment of local resources, proving the effectiveness of models to connect individuals to housing, increasing the availability of housing/services in other communities, ensuring safe use of the Library and working collaboratively with other agencies to address the problem.

Specific action includes an agreement with Los Angeles County to allow their C3 homeless outreach team to expand into Santa Monica. The team is currently focused on the Venice streets around 3rd and Rose and the group is similar to Santa Monica’s Multi-Disciplinary Street Team. The local program is also scheduled for expansion as part of the homelessness report. In addition, council will receive a $70,000 grant from United way for homelessness training and create a new Library Services Officer position.

“The Homeless Multidisciplinary Street Team, Ambassadors in Tongva and Palisades Park, and homeless outreach in the Main Library, are new models demonstrating efficacy and producing positive results,” said the report to Council.

“To continue making progress, the City is re-tooling its approach to homelessness, expanding efforts that focus on “where” (highly impacted public spaces) to complement existing strategies focused on “who” (Santa Monica program eligible individuals).”

Homelessness has skyrocketed locally and across the regions. According to the 2017 homeless count, Los Angeles County saw a 23 percent increase in its homeless population and the Santa Monica area also saw its numbers rise. Homelessness increased in the city by 26 percent. Surrounding areas such as the Supervisorial district and the City of Los Angeles council district that surrounds Santa Monica also reported increases.

The percentage increase comes even as the county continued to increase the number of people that found housing. In 2016, the county found permanent homes for 14,214 people, a 30 percent increase over the prior year.

However, 74 percent of Los Angeles County’s homeless population were stull unsheltered (42,828 people countywide).

The City’s homeless count was the highest since counts began in 2009. Santa Monica reported 921 homeless individuals this year, an increase from the record low of 728 (26%) the year before. The unexpected spike actually put the city on par with numbers from the first count, effectively undoing years of decline in the figures.

The sheer increase in numbers would be problem enough but there’s also a changing face of homelessness locally. More individuals are new to the city, pass through more quickly and are not engaged with services.

This shift has challenged the City’s homeless policies and practices, which are built to serve long time local homeless individuals with intensive care management, interim housing and permanent supportive housing,” said the report.
City Hall is basing much of its homeless response on proactive engagement.

“Proactive engagement of homeless individuals will be increased by the proposed 10-12 new outreach workers; re-deployed and augmented Police Department resources; a software solution that enriches first responders’ contacts with homeless people; and a full time social worker in the Library system,” said the report.

“Proactive engagement with residents, businesses, houses of worship and civic organizations will include deploying new training in effective interaction with homeless people; a broad community information and activation campaign; and citywide collaboration through the Santa Monica Homelessness Steering Committee that is being organized by key community partners.”
For more information on the report, visit www.smgov.net.

Closed session will begin at 5:30 p.m. with open session to begin no earlier than 6:30 p.m. in City Hall, 1685 Main St. on Nov. 28.

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