Still work to be done despite progress
By Dolores Quintana
After seven months, there has been progress related to the clean up of the Venice Boardwalk
after the City launched a $5 million dollar program to clear the area as reported by KTLA.
According to the CEO of the non-profit organization St. Joseph Center, that was given the large task to complete, Va Lecia Adams Kellum, Ph.D said, as quoted by KTLA, “We know there’s so much more to do. We’re really glad we started this process.”
St. Joseph’s Center’s work involves making contact with the people within the encampments and offering them permanent shelter and other help that they may need. Adams Kellum said, as quoted by KTLA. “We showed if you can go into a space and connect with people sincerely and offer them both interim and permanent housing, they say yes. Obviously there are going to be people who need additional support, additional mental health services.”
According to St. Joseph’s Center’s report, 213 people have been moved from the Venice Boardwalk area: 78 of those are in permanent housing, 88 are in interim accommodations and 47 have left the program’s housing. It is obviously an ongoing process.
Government subsidies help pay for the permanent housing and the people who take part in the program pay one third of their income, whatever the source may be like wages or disability payments, through different governmental programs.
Vietnam veteran Luke Harris has a new home at 67 years of age thanks to the program. He no longer lives on the beach but has an apartment to share with a roommate in South Los Angeles. He had no problem accepting help because he said, as quoted by KTLA, “because that’s what I was asking for, that’s what I desired.” With a sense of pride, Harris said, “This is my house. This is my yard.”
His roommate David Cruz needed more convincing to leave the beach but is now happier in the apartment. Cruz told KTLA, “I love it, I love it. I like being comfortable at night when I go to sleep.”
Cari Bjelajac, a member of the Venice Boardwalk Action Committee, was quoted by KTLA. and said, “It’s sort of an unfinished job. They’re not able to get the mental health and drug help they need, which is critical to making change in their lives and to helping the community heal.”
Bjelajac is speaking of those who still live on the beach in the boardwalk area and expressing the frustration of the residents of the area.
Adams Kellum said, “You can’t put a fence around the beach. It’s huge, right? And so we have to be out here every day, connecting with people who are hurting and we see it as ongoing work.”