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Homeless Czar And Other Homeless Advocates Update City Council:

Santa Monica’s homeless czar, Edward Edelman, spoke before the City Council last Tuesday regarding the plight of the area’s homeless. He mentioned there were positive changes in progress to help manage the region’s ever-growing homeless problem. Edelman noted how the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is working towards eradicating homelessness. In the works is a 47-page plan that will provide money to programs that help the homeless stay off the streets. If the plan is approved by the County Board of Supervisors, it will help eliminate the problem of dumping hospital patients or inmates who have nowhere else to go. Said Edelman, “The county is stepping up to the plate with a plan to prevent homelessness.”

Edelman also mentioned that Mayor Villaraigosa has appointed Tory Osborne to be the homeless representative for the City of Los Angeles, similar in capacity to Edelman’s role in Santa Monica. The objective of the representative is to help find solutions to the homeless epidemic. According to Edelman, “It’s a very good sign.”

Finally, the homeless czar stressed that he has been meeting with both state and federal officials on how to tackle the homeless issue.

Council members then heard from the City Manager’s Assistant for Government Relations, Kate Vernez, who mentioned the City is working along with the judicial community to establish a community court to address the problem of the homeless “cycling through our criminal justice and other systems.” The City will be advocating for funds from the state to fund the court, as well as working with the department of mental health to establish an urgent care facility on the Westside.

The City is also working with regional hospital groups to fund a study to determine the costs to hospitals in regards to habitual homeless patients. Hopefully the answers to the study will result in more housing that takes into consideration the medical needs of the homeless. The regional hospital partners are St. John’s, Santa Monica-UCLA, Brotman, Cedars-Sinai, Venice Family Clinic and the L.A. Free Clinic. Vernez concluded her report by stating, “The idea through all of these efforts is to engage in solutions with all the stakeholders, the courts, the cities, the hospitals and the business community.

The Council also heard from Acting Human Services Manager Mona Miyasato, whose department, along with an outside consultant, will soon begin its first evaluation of homeless delivery systems.

In other news, the Council recognized the Commission on the Status of Women, currently celebrating its 25th anniversary this month. The Council also extended the term of Dr. Nancy Greenstein from two to four years on the Los Angeles County Vector Control District.

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