September 19, 2019 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Homelessness Stagnant, Meth Use Up

Santa Monica releases results of 2019 Homeless Count

By Sam Catanzaro

The City of Santa Monica has released the results of their 2019 Homeless Count, and while homeless levels across the city have remained stagnant, methamphetamine use continues to rise among the city’s homeless population.

According to the results of the count, the total number of people experiencing homelessness increased by three percent from 957 to 987. 

“Homelessness continues to weigh heavy on the minds and in the daily lives of Santa Monicans,” said Mayor Gleam Davis. “We must remain an active and engaged partner in the work across the region to leverage the historic investments of L.A. County and state resources.” 

Despite this slight increase, officials are optimistic about the results, citing that the numbers decreased or remained stable in areas where there was targeted intervention. According to the City, there was a 19 percent decrease in the unsheltered population in Downtown Santa Monica while the unsheltered population citywide increased by 1 percent, to what the City is attributing to an increase in vehicle homelessness. 

“Our work shows that individualized and place-based approaches work and that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. In 2018, we added a new team of outreach workers who made a material difference,” said Alisa Orduña, the City’s Senior Advisor on Homelessness. 

One area that has city officials concerned, however, is an increase in methamphetamine use among Santa Monica’s homeless population. According to the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD), since 2014 possession of methamphetamine has increased by 152 percent across all populations. In 2018, people experiencing homelessness represented 69 percent of possession of methamphetamine dispositions. Coupled with untreated mental illness, this uptick in methamphetamine is cause for concern for city officials.

“Untreated mental illness and increased methamphetamine usage create the greatest challenge to the successful implementation of our homelessness strategies,” reads the City Staff report on results of the count. 

The City says that they are responding to the increase in methamphetamine through coordination and professionalization of local outreach efforts.

One way the SMPD hopes to tackle this issue is through pursuing a program that uses drug counselors to perform jail in-reach with arrested methamphetamine users before their release. A similar pilot program launched in 2018 connects arrestees with housing, service providers and behavioral healthcare prior to their release from City jail.

Entirely curtailing meth use among the city’s homeless population may ultimately depend partially on what lawmakers in surrounding jurisdictions do. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), meth is a regional problem facing much of Southern California. 

 “While opioid abuse is becoming a national crisis, meth is a bigger problem in Los Angeles,” said David Downing, Special Agent in Charge at the DEA’s, Los Angeles Field Division. 

According to the DEA, Mexican cartels have become so efficient at producing meth that there is an oversupply and much of it ends up in communities across Southern California.

While areas across Los Angeles are feeling the impacts of the rise in meth use, Santa Monica and the Westside have seen the most dramatic increases. According to Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, LA County as a whole saw around an 8 percent increase in hospital admissions relating to meth use, while the Westside which includes, Santa Monica saw a 150 percent increase.

The Santa Monica Mirror has reached out to the Los Angeles Police Department and the Culver City Police Department asking what approaches their respective departments are taking to curtail meth use, but at the time of publishing, neither has responded. 

Related Posts

Santa Monica Sees Nearly 9 Percent Spike in Part 1 Crimes

February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019

SMPD Chief Cynthia Renaud gives crime update. By Sam Catanzaro Over the past month, Santa Monica has experienced a string...

Man Charged for Murdering Mother

February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019

Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office files charges on Stephen Lloyd Fader. By Staff Writer The Los Angeles County District...

Fighting Fires, Tackling Homelessness, Saving Lives

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

The role of fire departments in 21st-century urban centers.  By Keldine Hull Do firefighters fight fires? Obviously, but most of...

SM City Defends Temporary Protective Status for Immigrants

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

By Staff Writer Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously at their January 22 meeting to join an amicus brief to...

SMPD Mounted Patrol Aids in Arrest

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

By Sam Catanzaro The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) carried out an arrest on February 1 with the aid of horses....

MDR Oil Well Explosion Sparks Debate

February 6, 2019

February 6, 2019

Jan. 18 incident sheds light on the dangers of oil wells in the city. By Tor Marom Discussions on public...

State of the City: Climate Change, Communication Among Challenges Facing Santa Monica

February 8, 2019

February 8, 2019

Mayor Davis delivers annual address. By Tor Marom This past Wednesday, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce held its annual...

Santa Monica and ‘Big One’ Preparedness

July 8, 2019

July 8, 2019

All it took was 10-20 seconds for the 1994 Northridge earthquake to rattle Southern California in a way no earthquake had done before. Dozens of people lost their lives and thousands more were injured as the state reeled from a catastrophic event that cost billions in damages

Santa Monica Man Arrested for Attempting to Murder Girlfriend

February 12, 2019

February 12, 2019

Kevin Ferron charged with attacking girlfriend Anna Koosman. By Sam Catanzaro The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) have arrested a...

Fire Damages Santa Monica High Rise

February 13, 2019

February 13, 2019

Shores Apartments unit catches fire Monday night.  By Staff Writer A Santa Monica high rise by the beach caught fire Monday...

SMPD to Conduct Bike and Pedestrian Safety Enforcement

February 13, 2019

February 13, 2019

Citations and increased enforcement Feb. 15 and 18. By Staff Writer  The Santa Monica Police Department will be conducting bike...

Judge’s Final Ruling Orders Districts, Special Election

February 17, 2019

February 17, 2019

Final judgement calls for July 2 special election to choose new council.  By Sam Catanzaro  A final judgment has been...

Santa Monica Police Seize 29 Guns, Cocaine, Meth and Heroin

February 20, 2019

February 20, 2019

By Staff Writer  On February 15,  the Santa Monica Police Department’s (SMPD) Narcotics/Vice Unit along with SWAT served multiple search...

Adapting to Santa Monica’s Single-Use Plastic Ban

February 21, 2019

February 21, 2019

City’s disposable food-ware ordinance under effect. By Keldine Hull When an updated Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance went into effect...

Council Votes Unanimously to Appeal District-Election Ruling

February 22, 2019

February 22, 2019

City of Santa Monica to appeal ruling that elections are in violation of CRVA.  By Sam Catanzaro On February 21,...