June 17, 2024 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

An Op-Ed from Councilmember Bonin on the Homeless Crisis

This is an op-ed from Councilmember Mike Bonin. Here he expands on recent coverage of ordinances, allowing the city to clean up sidewalks and parks, that were approved by the City Council and talks about solutions to the challenges presented by the increase in homelessness in Los Angeles’s neighborhoods.

Sanitation Sweeps 1
A garbage truck removes abandoned trash from Ocean Front Walk during a weekly sanitation sweep

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Mike Bonin

In recent years, Los Angeles has seen more progress in combating homelessness than it ever has — yet the problem is still getting worse.

Since 2011, the region has housed more than 23,000 people — a record number even by national standards. Yet homelessness is on the rise. Encampments are proliferating in our neighborhoods throughout the city. There are villages of tents on sidewalks from Venice to Van Nuys, and shantytowns in neighborhoods from Skid Row to San Pedro.

How is this possible? And how can we fix it?

The problem has roots in Los Angeles’ failure to provide sufficient housing and shelter. In 2006, the city got slapped hard by federal courts, which ruled that it was cruel and unusual punishment to forbid people from sleeping on sidewalks if there was not sufficient housing or shelter. In response, the city made a long-term commitment to build more housing, agreed to allow sidewalk camping, and enshrined that policy in a legally binding agreement.

Predictably, the stock of available housing has come nowhere close to meeting the demand. As a result, there are nearly 20,000 people in the city without shelter — and they are going where the law and the lack of resources is telling them to go: sidewalks, parks, and canyons.

While it must have been a tempting way for the city to wash its hands of the legal issue, this policy has been a disaster. The impacts have been as harmful as they should have been predictable: Encampments are increasing. The unsheltered homeless are falling deeper into chronic homelessness and mental illness. Neighborhood quality of life is being damaged. No one wins.

The ultimate solution to homelessness is providing housing first, with supportive services as needed. But even if we build exponentially more housing faster than we ever have, we will have tens of thousands of people without shelter for years. That’s not acceptable.

While we wait to build enough housing, we spend a tremendous amount of time and money dealing with the issue of encampments, but we focus very little on giving people an alternative to sidewalks. We can’t ignore the problem or wish it away. Housing first cannot mean housing only.

We need real alternatives to living in shanties — a menu of options between our sidewalks and our far too scarce permanent housing. That includes shared housing, bridge housing, sobering centers, transitional shelters, and even emergency shelters. We need options that keep people off the streets, out of risk, and engaged in case management and services unavailable on the street. We need to create and invest in a continuum of care rather than in our current policy of malignant neglect.

We must do better than a system of bare-bones, one-size-fits-all shelters that feel like prisons, and become permanent warehouses for people. We need specialized, welcoming centers or shared housing for couples, for families with children, for teenage runaways, for veterans and others. New York has begun to move toward this model. Agencies there have begun to implement a new “safe haven” system of shelters to lure the chronically unsheltered and service resistant from the streets. Officials are creating a series of round-the-clock “drop-in” centers. Churches and synagogues are opening small overnight “respite programs.”

We should do that here.

The issue of the unsheltered homeless population in Los Angeles is daunting. Citywide, 73 percent of our homeless go without shelter. Addressing this problem will require significant investment from and partnership with other levels of government. We will need money from the state, and from the county, and its health, mental health and social service agencies. We will need partners in the private sector and in the faith communities. We will likely need to change or suspend some land-use regulations to make it easier to create more housing and shelter options.

This will be challenging. It will cost money and political capital — neither of which is unlimited, and both of which are needed to build permanent supportive housing. We need more of both. We cannot ignore the enormous gap between our small supply of permanent housing and our tremendous demand. And we cannot ignore the costs and consequences — to our unhoused and unsheltered neighbors and to our neighborhoods — of the City of Angels being a City of Encampments.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin is a member of the council’s Committee on Homelessness.

Tags: in Opinion
Related Posts

New Program Can Help Protect Southern California Homes in the Event of an Earthquake

May 13, 2023

May 13, 2023

Residents Have Until May 31 To Apply For Seismic Retrofit Grants By Janiele Maffei, Chief Mitigation Officer for the California...

Venice Shorts: Tree Trimming Underway Thanks to the Vsa!

April 28, 2023

April 28, 2023

VSA Has Taken up the Task of Trimming Italian Stone Pine Trees. By Nick Antonicello Following the recent toppling of...

Venice Stakeholders Association’s Comments on Traci Park’s Broken Bridge Housing Promise

April 24, 2023

April 24, 2023

By Marc Ryavec I have been struggling with how to address the phenomenon that someone I and many others in...

Column: Tired OF Declinists? Some Enduring New California Positives

April 18, 2023

April 18, 2023

By Thomas D. Elias California has taken a beating lately, with (mostly Republican) governors of other states blasting many aspects...

Venice Shorts: The South Venice Blvd Encampment, Is It a Candidate for a City Cleanup?

April 14, 2023

April 14, 2023

One of the last of the large encampments closest to the beach, Venetians are hopeful help is on the way!...

Venice Shorts: Averill Defeats Tyminski 63%-37% to Become President of Venice Neighborhood Council

April 3, 2023

April 3, 2023

In second bid for top spot, surfer/photographer Brian Averill coasts to an easy win against Venice attorney and outgoing Vice-President...

Column: Install at LAX Tiny Homes From The State Grant

March 31, 2023

March 31, 2023

By Clark Brown On March 16  Governor Newsom announced in Sacramento, his first stop on his State of the State of...

Venice Shorts: Night & Day – Flower & Lincoln Transformed, Back in Business

March 28, 2023

March 28, 2023

By Nick Antonicello In what was a Venice eyesore just a few months ago has been transformed into a place...

Opinion: Please Vote for Daffodil Tyminski

March 25, 2023

March 25, 2023

This is Tom Williams, your neighbor at 1011 Main Street.  With the upcoming VNC election this Sunday, I wanted to reach...

Venice Shorts: Popular Local Jim Robb Seeks Vp Slot, Endorses Brian Averill for President of the VNC!

March 23, 2023

March 23, 2023

By Nick Antonicello  VENICE – In a twist of events longtime Community Officer Jim Robb will now be seeking the...

Venice Shorts: Tabor Family Legacy Amara Hordt Seeks Seat on VNC This Sunday!

March 22, 2023

March 22, 2023

Local realtor looks to follow a family legacy of engaged community involvement here in Venice By Nick Antonicello VENICE –...

Venice Shorts: Erica Moore, A Cheerleader For Venice In Her Run For Community Officer!

March 22, 2023

March 22, 2023

By Nick Antonicello VENICE – Local caterer Erica Moore is making a second run for the Venice Neighborhood Council, but...

Venice Shorts: Running Unopposed, Nico Ruderman’s Deep Dive Into Politics and Government Continues!

March 22, 2023

March 22, 2023

By Nick Antonicello VENICE – It has been an interesting two years of political action, involvement and advocacy for Nico...

Venice Shorts: “V” for Venice Volunteer

March 20, 2023

March 20, 2023

Media professional, local business owner and Dad, Eric Alan Donaldson is defined by his volunteerism and love of Venice. By...

Deborah Keaton, a Consensus Building Candidate for VNC Community Officer!

March 20, 2023

March 20, 2023

Creative director, global brander and private business owner seeks a general consensus on what’s best for Venice moving forward.  By...