Overview:

The newly launched Inside Safe program from Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has reached Venice

The newly launched Inside Safe program from Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has reached Venice with new outreach programs to get people off the streets and into housing.

On her first day as mayor of Los Angeles, Bass declared a state of emergency on homelessness. She vowed to get people housed and more housing built so that residents can see a real difference, which she said hasn’t been visible despite billions spent on programs to curb homelessness, including $1.2 billion in the current city budget.

Bass, a Democrat and former congresswoman, has said she intends to get over 17,000 homeless people into housing in her first year through a mix of interim and permanent facilities.

An estimated 40,000 people are homeless in the city of Los Angeles, a city of nearly 4 million. Homelessness is hugely visible throughout California with people living in tents and cars and sleeping outdoors on sidewalks and under highway overpasses.

She said people are homeless for a variety of reasons, including mental illness, addiction and job loss so outreach workers will try to coax people indoors.

The program officially launched in December of last year.

“We are shifting the way the city approaches homelessness, and the Inside Safe initiative represents a change in how we help and house people living in tents and encampments,” Mayor Bass said in a statement. “The new strategy on homelessness I am bringing to City Hall replaces quick fixes with real solutions. People should not be left to live and die on the streets because the city isn’t giving them someplace to go. Under my administration, we are giving people safe places to move inside, and we will ensure people can stay inside and safe for good.”

Councilwoman Traci Park announced the Mayor’s initiative had reached Venice on Tuesday. Outreach began to people living in encampments surrounding the A Bridge Home site at the intersection of Sunset Avenue and Pacific Avenue with some accepting housing right away.

“I’m proud to be locking arms with Councilwoman Park to change the way we approach homelessness in Los Angeles to bring people inside in a strategic and lasting way,” said Mayor Bass. “Councilwoman Park and I spent yesterday morning conducting outreach with encampment residents and meeting with service providers and local residents about how Inside Safe replaces quick fixes with real solutions. It’s important that the policy solutions developed are informed by the people most directly affected. Through Inside Safe, we will save lives and restore our neighborhoods.”

The program has five goals. Reduce the loss of life on the streets. Increase access to mental health and substance abuse treatment for those living in encampments. Eliminate street encampments. Promote long-term housing stability for people experiencing homelessness. Enhance the safety and hygiene of neighborhoods for all residents, businesses, and neighbors

“During my campaign, I pledged to pursue a comprehensive approach to working with service providers and city leaders to compassionately get encampments like those surrounding the bridge home the support they need,” said Park. “Putting people in rooms without the care they need doesn’t work. We need to ensure that they have adequate access to services they need including mental health, trauma, and substance use services for the unhoused.”

Last year’s federally required homeless count estimated there were more than 69,000 unhoused people in Los Angeles County. Nearly 1,500 people had died on the streets between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, according to the county coroner.

“It may be impossible to fully understand the depths of despair and trauma associated with long-term encampments unless you’re living in them as an unhoused person or living beside them as a housed neighbor,” said Venice resident Connie Brooks. “Watching fellow humans disintegrating before your eyes nearly every single day for years – while rarely being able to get them help – is indelibly scarring to everyone involved.”

According to the joint statement, Inside Safe is assessing street homelessness across Los Angeles and proactively engaging with people living in tents and encampments based on which locations are most chronic and where people are most in crisis. Inside Safe is housing based – people are offered immediate quality housing and a commitment of services and permanent housing so they can stay inside safe for good.

“This intensive housing intervention will help some of our most vulnerable unhoused neighbors get off the street for good and the support of Mayor Bass, Councilwoman Park and City and County elected leaders is vital to our success,” said Dr. Va Lecia Adams of Saint Joseph’s Center.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...