The homeless issue took center stage at last week’s City Council meeting with an update from the City’s Homeless Czar, Ed Edelman, and a report summary by consultants from the Urban Institute.
Edelman reported that the County of Los Angeles has begun implementation of a $100 million program, which includes “$80 million in one-time-only funds, and $20 million in ongoing funding.” He also reported that the Homeless Community Court, which will help direct homeless offenders to services, will be “launched next month” in Santa Monica. The County has provided $500,000 to fund the court’s operations.
Lastly, Edelman mentioned that the City is working along with the League of Cities to get the Governor to support Senate Bill 2, which concerns fair-share housing. The purpose of this bill is to help ensure that all cities in the County share the burden of providing aid to help “reduce the homeless population.”
Two consultants from the Urban Institute provided the Council with a synopsis of their final report, which focused on evaluating “Santa Monica’s Continuum of Care and Strategic Five-Year Plan” by analyzing the City’s current efforts and recommending additional steps. (See page 6 for story on report.) After hearing the report, the Council, at the urging of Councilmember Bobby Shriver, decided to delay their study session on it so that there is “more time for the public to digest” the report’s contents.
Despite the delay, the Council did hear from the community on the issue. Melissa Degoted, a member of the City’s Commission on the Status of Women, told the Council that after reviewing the report the Commission noted there was a “lack of detail about homeless women.” Women make up about 40 percent of the homeless population. Therefore, her Commission would like the Council to request that the consultants re-evaluate the data in the report.
Santa Monica resident Jennifer Kennedy emphasized the need for more affordable housing in the City by cautioning that without increasing affordable housing, and with the continued loss of rent-controlled housing, “The percentage of families who will become homeless over time will be two percent.”
John Maceri, Director of OPCC, one of the agencies in the City that works with the homeless, stated, “Any new resources should be targeted toward substance abuse services.”
The Council also heard from the new Executive Director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Rebecca Isaacs, who called for volunteers to assist her agency with the 2007 Homeless Count on January 23-25. This count will help determine “how many homeless are in the County and where they are,” as well as where services should be targeted.
In other action, the Council appointed the following Council liaisons to the City’s boards and commissions:
Airport Commission – Ken Genser
Architectural Review Board – Herb Katz
Bayside District Corporation – Ken Genser and Robert Holbrook
Convention and Visitors’ Bureau – Robert Holbrook and Pam O’Connor
Landmarks Commission – Kevin McKeown
Pier Restoration Corporation – Ken Genser
Planning Commission – Pam O’Connor and Kevin McKeown
Recreation and Parks Commission – Robert Holbrook