Tag: Homelessness

STEP Court Established For The Homeless In Santa Monica

January 16, 2024 ·

SANTA MONICA—On January 11, the city of Santa Monica revealed in a press release that qualifying individuals experiencing homelessness and mental health or substance abuse issues who commit a misdemeanor in Santa Monica will have access to a monthly Shelter, Treatment, and Empowerment Program, known as STEP Court.

The city indicated that the program had a soft launch on January 10.

STEP Court is a community-based, prosecutor-led collaborative diversion court that focuses on resources instead of criminalization, aiming to streamline connection to social services, address recidivism and decreasing the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in the region.

STEP Court will operate every second Wednesday of the month, and will be overseen by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge in a non-formal setting. Resource navigators from Exodus Recovery, Inc. will meet with program participants to assist with accessing available resources, including but not limited to obtaining identification, mental health and substance abuse treatment, housing voucher applications, and transportation to regional housing authorities.

To ensure program participants are making progress and to address any obstacles, resource navigators will regularly provide detailed progress as participants complete all recommendations. Once a participant has completed all recommendations, including treatment and, where appropriate, obtaining long-term permanent housing, their case(s) will be dismissed.

“A diversion program like STEP Court focuses on helping people off the streets and reclaim their lives through resource navigation rather than continued punitive measures,” said Mayor Phil Brock. “I’m thrilled that the program is already seeing momentum and thank the Superior Court of Los Angeles County for their partnership.”

Wednesday’s inaugural session of STEP Court saw five participants, four of whom accepted the program recommendations and are set to return next month with progress on the orders the judge issued.

“The court is proud to partner with the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office to facilitate the innovative STEP Court program and its mission to assist justice-involved, unhoused individuals in the city of Santa Monica,” said Samantha P. Jessner, presiding judge of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. “STEP Court represents forward-thinking, collaborative justice, and reflects the court’s commitment to work with justice partners and elected officials to address the county’s homelessness crisis. I thank the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office for their partnership and their efforts in making this new program a reality.”

STEP Court is funded for the next 3 years via a grant from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, along with a grant from the State Bar of California and funding from the federal Housing and Urban Development’s HOME Investment Partnerships American Rescue Plan Program.

The program adds to Santa Monica’s goal of diversion initiatives, including the Alternatives to Incarceration Pre-Filing Diversion Program and Retail Theft Diversion, which provide access to resource navigation as well as the chance to prevent criminal charges from being filed.

For more details on homelessness services and resources in SM, visit santamonica.gov/connect-with-homelessness-services.

By Trevor

Meeting Being Held To Discuss Homelessness In Malibu

January 8, 2024 ·

MALIBU—The city is inviting community members to join a virtual community meeting to discuss homelessness in Malibu on Wednesday, January 17, starting at 11 a.m.

“The homelessness crisis impacts everyone, housed and unhoused, here in Malibu and across the state,” said Mayor Steve Uhring. “It is critical that the City continue to offer outreach to help people experiencing homelessness to get into housing and comprehensive services This meeting will offer an opportunity for residents to join the discussions with our homeless service providers, law enforcement, City officials, business and civic leaders, and fellow community members.”

According to the city of Malibu website, participants can ask questions, share concerns, and hear updates on homelessness, homeless outreach efforts, and services from the City’s Homeless Outreach Team through The People Concern, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) the Las Virgenes-Malibu Council of Governments (COG) Homeless Outreach Coordinator, and City staff.

The city started contracting for homeless outreach services in 2017, beginning with two outreach workers and expanding in 2020 to include a housing navigator. The city of Malibu is aiming to balance its service-based approach to this humanitarian crisis with the need to address the public safety, environmental, wildfire safety and quality-of-life impacts of homelessness on the community.

The results from the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA) Homeless Count on January 25, 2023, showed a continued decrease in people experiencing homelessness in Malibu. Since 2017, when the city started tracking the data, the homeless population has continuously declined as follows:

-2017 – 178
-2018 – 155
-2019 – 154
-2020 – 239
-2021 – 157
-2022 – 81
-2023 – 71

The meeting link is posted at www.MalibuCity.org/Homelessness. For more details, contact Public Safety Liaison Luis Flores at 310-456-2489, ext. 236 or lflores@malibucity.org. For information about Malibu’s efforts to address homelessness, visit the Homelessness webpage.

By Trevor

Woodland Hills To Open New Homeless Family Shelter

May 18, 2023 ·

WOODLAND HILLS—On Monday, May 15, Ken Craft, founder of Hope the Mission, announced the opening of The Woodlands, a new homeless shelter for families. On their website, Hope the Mission, invites the public to sign up to attend the open house that is to occupy the old 818 hotel across from the William Howard Taft Charter School.

“Our mission is to prevent, reduce and eliminate poverty, hunger, and homelessness. We do this by offering immediate assistance and long-term solutions,” reads a statement from the Hope for Mission website.

“You don’t want to miss out on the chance to see our newest family shelter – The Woodlands. This 100-unit, 400-bed facility will provide sanctuary to families experiencing homelessness. We are proud of all the work that has been put into this facility and the hope it will provide for thousands. We invite you to our Open House where you can see for yourself how we are going to positively impact our community!”

The Open House will be held on Saturday, May 27, from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. All who attend are asked to sign up ahead of time on the Hope the Mission website.

“As we prepare to officially open the Woodlands in two weeks, we need help putting beds together and unpacking dressers and nightstands. Please join us this Saturday, May 20th, starting at 9 a.m. to get the rooms ready for families experiencing homelessness! We need to put together 300 beds! The address is 20157 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills! Come be part of the solution to addressing homelessness in our community!,” said Ken Craft on his Facebook page.

Hope the Mission was formerly known as Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission.

By Sharon

City Council Votes To Extend Local Emergency On Homelessness

May 15, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Santa Monica City Council members unanimously voted to extend the local emergency order on homelessness to May 31, 2024, at a regular meeting on May 9. The Council’s action followed a comprehensive report presented by City staff delivering the results of the 2023 Homeless Count in January. The count showed that 926 people were experiencing homelessness in Santa Monica, a 15 percent increase from the 2022 Homeless Count where 807 individuals were identified as unhoused.

“There’s an imbalance of resources in the system across Santa Monica and throughout the region,” said Santa Monica City Manager, David White. “We live in a region that has failed to maintain and develop an adequate supply of housing. Adequate levels of affordable housing and permanent supportive housing are the most critical components to homelessness prevention and resolution.”

In February of this year, the Council declared a local emergency on homelessness, and in March, authorized the city to move forward with investments in homelessness prevention now that resources are available. According to White, the new initiatives presented in the Strategic Plan to Address Homelessness on Tuesday, build upon “the police department’s homelessness liaison team, outreach teams staffed with medical, mental health, and substance abuse professionals, eviction protection, and right to council resources.” 

Santa Monica also has plans to launch a pilot program featuring a therapeutic transport van where medical professionals will “co-respond to incoming emergency calls related to, or presumed to involve, non-combative, medically stable individuals experiencing a mental health crisis,” according to a press release posted by the City on May 11. With the goal of implementing a 24/7 service, the City has allocated $464,000 to the program. 

The City’s initiatives were detailed in four pillars of strategy:

Preventing Homelessness:  Preventing housed Santa Monicans from becoming homeless and increasing affordable housing opportunities.

Behavioral Health:  Addressing the physical and behavioral health needs of vulnerable residents by providing more access to healthcare.

Safe Public Spaces:  Continuously enhancing our approach to maintaining equitable access to safe, fun, and healthy open spaces.

Regional Capacity:  Strengthening regional capacity to address homelessness.

“Sitting here and being a lifelong resident of Santa Monica, I think it’s safe to say that this is the most robust plan to address homelessness in the history of the city,” said Council Member Oscar de la Torre. “In terms of resources, in terms of programs, it’s the most we’ve ever done, and it’s probably still not going to be enough.” 

A concern of several city council members was the large number of homeless individuals in Santa Monica not from the area. De la Torre said he spends a lot of time speaking with unhoused people in Santa Monica, and “98% of people,” he estimated, are from out of state. As a result, De la Torre also said a key focus of these initiatives shoul

d be the pillar of regional capacity, calling on surrounding regions to introduce their own initiatives and share the financial burden in support of Santa Monica. 

“On the horizon this year are new developments,” said O’Shea Stevenson of the Community Services Department. “Las Flores with 73 units, 1819 Pico Boulevard with 48 units, the Laurel with 57 units, and Little Berkeley with 13 units.” 

In addition, according to Stevenson, “Parking structure 3 located at 1318 4th Street was demolished in Fall of 2022 to make way for a 100% affordable housing development with at least 100 units, and the planning for that continues.”

For progress updates and more information, visit the City of Santa Monica’s website at https://www.santamonica.gov/topic-explainers/homelessness.

By Paige Strickland