Addressing Homelessness in the West Valley
Improving Safety and Accessibility Under Freeways and in Tunnels
In July, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield had "no loitering" signs installed under every freeway and tunnel in his district.
After a series of conversations with Senior Lead Officers and the LAPD HOPE team, Blumenfield believes these signs could be a real tool to help LAPD enforce the municipal code and keep the sidewalks and underpasses clear, clean, and safe.
While the signs don’t prevent encampments, they help provide an opening for outreach workers and LAPD to engage with homeless individuals who frequent these locations.
Cleaning up RVs
In July, Councilmember Blumenfield introduced a motion to instruct City departments to find new ways to provide waste pumping for RVs occupied by homeless people and for RVs that need to be towed. According to LAHSA, there are 2,363 RVs on the streets of LA and only two public dumping stations, one near LAX and one in San Pedro, a very long way from the West Valley. With nowhere legal or accessible to deal with waste, RVs have had no sanitary options to handle their septic needs, resulting in illegal dumping that is a public health hazard and unnecessary indignity for homeless RV dwellers.
“This is an issue of health and safety. It would help the homeless abide by the law while ensuring that our streets, sidewalks, and gutters are free of massive amounts of human waste,” said Blumenfield.
The motion also instructs those departments to report on the feasibility of providing vouchers for use at a private or public RV dump station for individuals living in RVs who are enrolled in services for housing placement or a contractor on site if the RV is on the wait list for towing.
There has been a rise in the number of complaints about illegal dumping relating to RVs that are unregistered, in violation of the 72-hour limit on city streets, and/or causing a safety hazard. Towing companies do not have the equipment or ability to empty sewage tanks of RVs slated for removal. This has led to a backlog of RVs that require towing. The City had three contracts for heavy duty towing, but due to the unsanitary conditions of the vehicles, among other issues, two of the contractors are no longer towing RVs. The new pumping program could also help facilitate the towing of the RVs that have been cited and marked for removal because they could abate the sanitary issues that often make towing difficult or prevent some contractors from being willing to take on the job.
To learn more about what Councilmember Blumenfield is doing to address homelessness in the West Valley please click here.
The Comprehensive Homeless Strategy
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) conducted their annual homeless count, with Councilmember Blumenfield and his staff leading the effort in the West Valley for the past few years. In 2017 their results concluded there was an 20% increase in the number of homeless city wide with a 4% jump in the Valley, but there was a marked decrease of 16% in the 3rd Council District.
The Mayor and Council have now approved a multi-tiered holistic program to target homelessness in a new way, starting with improving how the City, County, and nonprofits coordinate their efforts.
In the FY 2017-18 budget, the City is investing $131 million, targeting factors that lead people to homelessness including mental health and addiction, as well as building affordable housing and support services.
Team Blumenfield volunteering as part of the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. Blumenfield’s Reseda office was used as a deployment site for the Count in the West Valley.
What are the Core Elements in the Strategy?
Promoting a “No Wrong Door” Approach
This approach coordinates services in a way so that any homeless individual can be linked to supportive services regardless of their point of entry. Whether it’s through LAPD, LAFD, Department of Sanitation, or any City agency, that person will be connected to the assistance they need.
Growing the Coordinated Entry System (CES)
For efficiency, it is important to understand what types of services the homeless population is utilizing and be able to track people living on the street. The CES is operating in all of Los Angeles County and coordinates our government with over 100 different providers. By continuing to update and improve this system, homeless individuals can receive personalized services tailored to their needs to help ensure a brighter future.
Creating New Facilities
Facilities for the homeless, including public hygiene and storage space, are integral to the homelessness strategy. These facilities and services can mitigate the effects of homelessness in the short term while housing is being identified and they also provide an opportunity to engage with homeless individuals. A few of the new types of facilities that are proposed include safe parking space and citywide mobile shower and public restroom units.
‘Housing First’ is an approach that swiftly provides homeless individuals with permanent shelter and then provides essential services. This initiative focuses on helping the most vulnerable individuals on the street in the most efficient way possible. Research has shown that this is a cost effective way to break the cycle for those who are chronically homeless.
This program is different from ‘Housing First’ because it is meant for individuals who recently fell into homelessness and need temporary assistance. It has individualized and flexible services including rental and employment assistance and can be used for individuals or families. This helps prevent those struggling from continuing the path to chronic homelessness.
For more information on the Comprehensive Homeless Strategy click here.
Important Frontline Contacts
For Community Members Who Would Like to Help:
21430 Strathern St. Canoga Park, 91304
1851 Tyburn St. Glendale, 91204
8756 Canby Ave. Northridge, 91325
Emergency Response Team—(213) 225-6581
22103 Vanowen St., Canoga Park 9130
For Homeless in Need of Services:
Mobile Triage Team- (818) 610-6720
Homeless Family Solutions- (818) 255– 2766
Services for Veterans Families- (818) 255-2607
The Homeless Families Solutions System
Overall Homeless Services- 211
Overall Homeless Services- (818) 785-4476
Watch a brief segment on the Homeless Town Hall that Councilmember Blumenfield hosted on September 12th, 2016.