Outreach group to shuttle Venice’s homeless to Westside Winter Shelter

The Venice Stakeholders Association has filed a lawsuit over illegal camping at Venice Beach. Photo courtesy Venice Stakeholders Association

The city of Los Angeles will pay $100,000 to a homeless outreach group to direct Venice’s chronically homeless population to beds at the Westside Winter Shelter, which opened for the winter season Monday, and other services.

“Especially with the rain starting yesterday, it is important that people know the Winter Shelter is open and that a bed is waiting,” said Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents Venice.

The city retained the group People Assisting the Homeless, or PATH, for a year to ensure the homeless in the 11th District are aware of the shelter’s services.

The city’s $8,333.50-per-month payments to PATH will fund “street outreach, housing and supportive services” to homeless people in Bonin’s council district, according to the contract, which started Oct. 1 and ends Oct. 1, 2015.

The contract was unanimously approved by the City Council last week and the $100,000 will come out of the 11th District’s Venice Area Surplus Real Property Trust Fund.

“PATH is an excellent organization with a proven history of getting
people off the street and connected with the services they need,” Bonin said.

“No one in Los Angeles who is willing to accept help should be forced to rest their head on pavement at night.”

The Westside Winter Shelter, run by First to Serve Inc., has 160 beds at the West Los Angeles National Guard Armory. The shelter will be open until March 1.

A shuttle will transport people from Market Street and Ocean Front Walk to the shelter each night between 5 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.

Venice’s homeless population has shifted over the years, from people living in cars or recreational vehicles in city-owned beachfront lots to people sleeping along Ocean Front Walk and in alleys near the beach. Since the city banned camping along the beach, which is technically a city park, homeless people have been sleeping on the streets around Gold’s Gym, off Rose Avenue.

Bonin said the number of homeless has grown due to legal rulings that prevented the city from controlling the number of encampments on sidewalks, Bonin said.

“Venice has unfortunately become one of the city’s centers of homeless encampments, creating public health and public safety issues for the neighbors and merchants on and around the Boardwalk and in many neighborhoods of Venice,” Bonin said.

“PATH is going to reach out to the people who are willing to accept services, so they get the attention they need and so residential neighborhoods do not become permanent de facto campgrounds,” he said.

Bonin said also has asked for $500,000 in city funds to be spent on trash collection in Venice and urged for police to respond to crimes involving the homeless.

Bonin received a complaint Saturday from Venice resident and actor Kip Pardue, alleging that a “transient broke into my home this morning” by climbing over a wall and walking in through his front door.

The message was circulated by Pardue via an email list for the Venice Stakeholders Association, which sued the city last month, alleging public officials have allowed dangerous conditions and nuisance problems to continue in Venice by failing to
enforce no-camping rules on the beach and boardwalk.

Pardue’s wife, who is pregnant, alerted him to the transient. Pardue shooed out of the homeless woman out of their home, where she was arrested by Los Angeles police in a parking lot.

“This neighborhood will no longer sit idly by while mentally disturbed and drug-addicted transients run amok in our homes and lives,” Pardue wrote.

He said “years of fear of something like this happening to me and my family have now become reality.”