Tents: The Venice Boardwalk has become the center of the local homelessness crisis. Clara Harter

The pathway out of homelessness requires navigating a complex web of resources and City Council would like a map.

In a Dec. 14 meeting Councilmembers voted unanimously to have staff consolidate a wide range of information on services pertaining to homelessness, so that gaps can be identified and direction given for supplementing resources.

The request, which was submitted by Councilmembers Phil Brock, Christine Parra and Oscar de la Torre asked that a specific list of data, information and suggestions be made available to Council and the public.

Of high priority on the list, is contact information for members of the community to call if they encounter an individual in need of shelter or experiencing a mental health crisis or if they are in need of assistance themselves.

Council also requested a map of street-based outreach teams’ coverage areas and hours of operation in the city; a directory of public restrooms and their hours of operation; a map of shelters and hygiene services; and a list of funding sources for all these services.

The request also asks staff to come up with suggested opportunities to add new resources to the system of care, such as identifying city-owned land that could potentially be used to provide temporary additional shelter capacity.

During the meeting Councilmember Oscar de la Torre asked if the information request could be amended to also include ways to assess the effectiveness of services.

“I think (there is) one thing that is not really specific: there is the question of how we assess best practices on data gathering and reporting to improve service delivery and program effectiveness, so I would like to add that,” said de la Torre.

City Manager David White agreed to this during the meeting and the rest of Council subsequently supported the amendment.

Councilmember Phil Brock said that he had been seeking pieces of this information from staff for months and was having difficulty getting specifics.

“That’s where this frustration started… I asked staff several times, could I even just get what they used to call a magic marker, a map of the city: here’s where People’s Concern is, here’s where West Coast Care is, here’s where St. Joseph’s Center is….I couldn’t get that, I asked that for months,” said Brock.

Councilmember Christine Parra, who co-submitted the request, said that she also had difficulties getting specific information related to homeless services, but said that she is not accusing staff of not doing their job.

“I want to work with staff, I want to talk to them and work with them to identify where those gaps are, and how do I support you as a councilmember,” said Parra.

City Manager David White committed to having staff gather this information on services and to continue listening to feedback around areas in need of resources while it is being compiled.

“I will make sure that the current contact information is in your hands and again, I would ask please send me the information if you’re hearing from constituents who have areas of concern,” said White. “I will work with staff to make sure that those areas get addressed as we produce this information for you.”

Clara@smdp.com