VNC Homelessness Committee Hears From County Officials on Proposed Pilot Program That Yields More Questions Than Answers!
By Nick Antonicello
The newly constituted Homelessness Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council met Tuesday evening, November 28th for the second time to another packed audience of residents seeking updates on the encampments here in the neighborhood as well as the recreational vehicle crisis and a pilot proposal being developed to address chronic homelessness at the boardwalk and oceanfront walk.
The meeting was held at the Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch Library in the Community Room and was co-chaired by members Alley Bean and Lisa Redmond, a homeless advocate. The other committee members consist of Connie Brooks, Naomi Nightingale, Judy Goldman, Alfie Jones (absent), Christina Tullock and Cari Bjelajac.
The bulk of the meeting was dedicated to a winding and rambling discussion followed by a limited question & answer session regarding a fairly vague proposal to address the chronically homeless at the beach that was navigated primarily by Amy Perkins, Senior Housing & Homelessness Deputy and Jonah Glickman, Housing & Homelessness liaison for Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, who represents Venice.
Horvath was elected last year and is a former councilmember and Mayor of West Hollywood, and is one of the more progressive of elected officials in Los Angeles County where she represents some two million residents on this five-member board.
Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the United States with some 9.8 million residents.
LA County has a larger population than some forty states.
Amy Perkins, a social worker, served in the administration of former LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, overseeing crisis housing interventions, and the A Bridge Home project. Perkins came to the Garcetti Administration from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), where she was the Associate Director of the Access & Engagement Department, overseeing the training and development of over 100 street outreach workers and aligning the department’s operations and strategic practices. Prior to her tenure at LAHSA, Perkins was the Director of Strategic Partnerships and oversaw Housing Navigation programs in the San Fernando Valley at LA Family Housing, one of the largest comprehensive real estate developers and homeless service providers in Los Angeles.
Glickman, is a former staffer to former LA Council President Nury Martinez.
The discussion was hard to follow as no prepared visuals or presentation was offered to those in attendance.
While admitting resources were “lacking,” no hard numbers were offered as to how many homeless individuals were being engaged, or a timeline to surround this core group of the chronically homeless moving forward. No database or directory of these individuals was mentioned and no best practices was offered to get these individuals inside and off the boardwalk and beach.
Cost again was never mentioned and the entire discussion seemed to be a bureaucratic exercise in futility.
Under committee commentary, one member made it a point to mention that the LAPD should not be considered as part of the solution at the boardwalk.
However, committee member Judy Goldman, long an activist and regular at such VNC meetings questioned what was the “framework for accountability,” and asked about “continuity, as well as standards and best practices.”
Goldman asked the only practical question of the evening and that was, “what is the plan?”
VNC board member Steve Bradbury was also in attendance and questioned if this proposal was about “sustainability or scale.”
Goldman summarized her comments as stating “the devil was in the details,”
Two submitted resolutions by stakeholder Mark Ryavec and VNC board member Clark Brown were not entertained by the committee and it was announced they would be heard and discussed at the committee’s January meeting.
Two motions supporting city resolutions sponsored by Councilwoman Traci Park (CD-11) regarding a RV Rehousing Pilot Program and oversized vehicle parking were apparently passed as the meeting needed to adjourn since the Library was closing at 8:00 PM.
The resolutions supporting council motions by Park seem to be in response to the proliferation of RV’s in the hundreds currently occupying the streets of Venice, in particular on main arteries such as Lincoln, Rose, Venice and Main Street.
Nick Antonicello is a thirty-year resident who covers the deliberations of the VNC as well as the issue of homelessness, encampments and illegal RV’s in the neighborhood. Have a take or tip on all things Venice? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org