Published in the Valley Vantage on December 2, 2021
This year I’ve been updating our community on my ongoing efforts to expand housing and shelter opportunities, and I’ve been helping lead our city to adopt humane, constitutional laws that allow for encampment restrictions along certain critical corridors. Progress has been intensely slow, but over the past year we’ve created more transitional housing opportunities than people on our CD3 streets (according to the last LAHSA Homeless Count in 2020) and this week our “41.18” ‘no encampment zones’ took effect at three key locations. The underpasses at Corbin and De Soto as well as the area surrounding Winnetka Park are now officially off-limits to encampments. The other 23 locations approved for 41.18 designation will follow shortly.
First and foremost, we have led with services and available housing, consistent with the law and my sincere belief that while everyone deserves a roof over their head, that does not mean they are entitled to occupy anywhere along the public right of way. We have talked with people at these locations over the course of the year and have been offering shelter to people at the 101 freeway locations repeatedly since our first ‘cabin community’ opened in June.
On December 1st, we became the first district in LA to officially have some ‘no encampment zones’ in effect— specifically two underpasses along the 101 freeway (where we housed 70 people in fall 2020 working with federal Judge David O. Carter) and one at Winnetka Park. While there are many other locations that community members have proposed for encampment prohibition, we must move deliberately, thoughtfully, and constitutionally so these new rules can both withstand legal scrutiny by the Courts and be implemented fairly, humanely and in a manner that is beyond reproach.
Our goal is to move people indoors and onto a path toward permanent housing, targeting our outreach teams at these specific locations so they can better connect with each person. This focus is key as we want people to really hear us, trust us, and understand both how life changing our housing opportunities can be and how serious we are about keeping certain critical corridors free of encampments.
Legitimate shelter/housing opportunities or services have been offered multiple times to those in the no encampment zones. The non-profits I have engaged to do additional outreach and LAHSA have documented and confirmed this.
The time for the public to regain some control over our public right of way is now, it has been hard fought, and it is long overdue. While the permanent signs have not yet gone up, my team and I have installed temporary signs for the past several weeks to ensure that proper notice has been issued.
It’s important to note that not all the CD3 restricted sites took effect on the 1st. We plan to steadily add signage every two weeks to other locations to keep pace with the intense outreach efforts that are ongoing.
So what should constituents expect to see over the coming months?
Fewer unhoused people on our streets, gradually. The 41.18 law can only apply to very specific areas like underpasses, outside homeless interventions, or schools, and it only applies to a limited number of those areas that have been specifically designated by the entire City Council via resolution.
Together with incredible local nonprofits like About My Father’s Business and SHARE!, as well as our partners at LAHSA, LA Family Housing and Hope of the Valley, we are continuing to build trust and offer housing to those living in all of the 26 designated ‘no encampment zones’ in CD3. Most of these locations are already uninhabited, and we’re within reach of housing everyone living at these spots before the restrictions are enforced.
We are doing outreach with minimal presence of law enforcement. Even though these areas are becoming off limits, we may occasionally see people there, and outreach teams will be swiftly dispatched to connect with them. While continuing to lead with services and housing first, if people refuse a lawful order to move away from a ‘no encampment zone’, police enforcement may be needed. We need to be compassionate while insisting on compliance with rules and regulations.
41.18 will not end homelessness, nor is it the solution for homelessness. It is designed to keep critical corridors clear of encampments and allow for safe passage through these public rights of way. When 41.18 restrictions are paired with new housing opportunities like we have in CD3, progress will happen. From buying hotels with Project Homekey, Cabin Communities, Bridge Housing, Safe Parking and our latest partnership with SHARE! offering shared housing, we have many types of transitional housing in the West Valley. Hundreds of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) units that I successfully fought for are built or under construction right now and will open over time.
If you have any questions, always feel free to reach out to me or my staff by calling 818.774.4330 or by sending us an email at [email protected].
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