Helping Get the Unhoused into Shelters and Services

Blumenfield at an encampment in an underpass to offer services to those living unhoused. 

Message from Councilmember Bob Blumenfield

We must continue to strive for creative solutions to find shelter for every person living unhoused in Los Angeles.  People are dying everyday on our streets and we must act with urgency. Though the West Valley has fewer people living unsheltered compared to the other districts in the City, our community continues to face serious humanitarian and quality of life issues.

I share the frustrations I hear from many of my constituents that change isn’t happening fast enough as we see freeway underpasses become makeshift shelters and RVs lining up on commercial corridors. The fact that we have thousands of people living on our streets is unconscionable and should never be ‘normalized.’ I am saddened by the many broken lives we encounter,and troubled by what  this teaches our children about our society. The human suffering we see on the streets is unacceptable, and we have to do more to end homelessness in our City.

My staff and I spend more time dealing with homelessness than any other single issue. I will continue to work proactively, and constitutionally, to curb homelessness locally within the powers of my office, as well as by partnering with the County and State on a number of efforts.

This page is a glimpse into the efforts I have spearheaded to address homelessness locally, as well as the long and short term strategies I have been able to help lead throughout our City. From building more permanent supportive housing and transitional housing, to job assistance, to making sure the County gets the resources it needs to help the drug addicted and mentality ill, much more work needs to be done for both short and long term solutions, and I remain committed to tackling the crisis.

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PROVIDING SHELTER AND ASSISTANCE

HELPFUL RESOURCES

 

Cabin Communities

To save lives, provide a more humane alternative to sidewalk encampments, help stabilize vulnerable people as they await permanent housing, and improve public health and safety, the City of Los Angeles is currently moving forward on creating a variety of homeless shelters and interim housing including new “cabin communities” all across the City. Councilmember Bob Blumenfield is doing his part to include Third District sites in this overall strategy, with two cabin communities expected to open in 2021.

Councilmember Blumenfield hosted a virtual town hall on April 22, 2021. Blumenfield answered written questions from residents in advance of the meeting (Click here to read the Q&A sheet) and answered live questions during the meeting (click here to watch the recording of the town hall.)

Councilmember Blumenfield had previously hosted a virtual presentation on cabin communities on December 14, 2020. To watch that presentation, click here. Over 200 questions were submitted and answered for that meeting and are compiled on a Q&A Sheet. 

Blumenfield has also met with the local homeowner’s association, with the neighborhood Councils, and with every group or individual who has requested a meeting or conversation about the cabin communities.  He even met, for two hours, with protestors who insisted on an in-person meeting during the pandemic.  In addition, he has published articles, pushed out information on social media and through his newsletter, and has sent individually addressed letters to every property owner on record in proximity to the proposed cabin communities. 

Los Angeles cabin community locations were chosen after the City Administrative Officer was tasked with identifying all publicly owned lands that could potentially be used for this purpose.  There were only a few sites that worked in the Third District, one of which was the parking lot behind Councilmember Blumenfield’s Reseda District Office, adjacent to the West Valley Police Station, another was in Tarzana in an underutilized Orange Line Parking Lot, and a third is being evaluated in Canoga Park.

In May 2021, Blumenfield held the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Reseda site, which is now called the Sycamore Cabin Community. This site has 52 cabins and is run by homeless service provider Hope of the Valley.  Blumenfield is also hard at work on the Tarzana site, called the Sunflower Cabin Community, which is estimated to hold 74 cabins.  

In North Hollywood there are two cabin communities that are open, one which has 96 cabins and another which has 34 and there are cabin community sites opening up all across the City. 

One has been approved in the Harbor area, and two more are expected to be built in the Hollywood area. Other locations throughout the City are being considered as well. Cabin communities already function in Sonoma County and the cities of Riverside, Banning and Santa Cruz.

Below are photos from the Sycamore Cabin Community in Reseda

Cabin communities are one part in Blumenfield’s overall strategy to get homeless people off our sidewalks and streets and into housing.  Having these communities will help enable the City to enforce anti-camping laws and are directly related to a federal lawsuit about homelessness that is being heard by Federal Judge David O. Carter.  The pending L.A. Alliance for Human Rights case is similar to 28 other cases where nearby cities were similarly sued. In each of the other cases, Judge Carter helped forge a settlement agreement that enabled the City being sued to once again enforce its anti-camping laws (something LA has been prohibited from doing because of other Federal Court cases). However, in each of these cases enforcement was not allowed until the City being sued provided basic shelter for at least 60% of its homeless population.

In hearings on the case, Judge Carter has raised specific concerns about people living in the freeway areas due to dangers from toxins or risk of being injured or killed when hit by a vehicle. Judge Carter has frequently demanded that the City and County of Los Angeles rise to the occasion to meet the housing and shelter needs of people within 500’ of a freeway and with other vulnerabilities. With maximizing available rapid rehousing and voucher opportunities, people at these underpasses are now getting housed throughout the region and once cabin communities are up and running, they will add more local capacity for unhoused in the West Valley.

In prior cases, each of the cities that reached a settlement agreement is smaller in population than a single Council district in Los Angeles.  Consequently, the Judge has indicated a willingness to treat each Council district like its own city and potentially allow settlement agreements on a district specific basis.  While the City’s overall homeless population is 41,000 people, the Third District’s homeless population is 704 people. Finding shelter for at least 60% (hopefully 100%) of his district’s population is an achievable goal and Councilmember Blumenfield wants to be ready to hit that goal as fast as possible. He has stated, “It is the right thing to do legally and morally, and doing so would enable our local sidewalks and streets to no longer be a place of desperation and squalor, but the pedestrian and transit corridors they were meant to be.”

To reach this goal will require building interim housing in many communities, and Blumenfield is determined not to make any one neighborhood carry the burden alone. The proposed “cabin communities” in Reseda, Tarzana and possibly Canoga Park are part of this interim housing plan. Other elements of the interim housing plan include an 80 unit Bridge Housing facility in Canoga Park opening in January, the transformation of two local Project Roomkey hotels into Project Homekey hotels (125 rooms), and the possible expansion of Safe Parking to Woodland Hills and other communities.

‘Cabin communities’ offer immediate, temporary housing opportunities at a fraction of the cost of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). They are generally built on parking lots or empty spaces and consist of multiple tiny homes. These communities include:

  • 8ft by 8ft tiny homes that contain a fold-out bed, shelves, an AC unit, and a door that locks.
  • Separate structures for restrooms and showers and a separate structure for social services workers to meet with the residents and provide services, as well as shared community spaces, and a laundry room. 
  • 24/7 security that only allows residents and authorized visitors to enter.
  • Case management services on site.  Food provided on site.
  • Full perimeter privacy fence.

Blueprint of Sycamore Cabin Community

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In other cities, these communities have proven effective and safe with rules, security, and services on site. The Councilmember and his team are committed to making sure that any interim housing does not become a magnet for crime or nuisances — he is pushing to create a buffer zone around these cabin communities where no camping will be allowed — even before the legal threshold to do so in a ‘district-specific’ settlement is reached.

The cabin community is meant to serve the local homeless population, not bring in people from other areas. Hope of the Valley is the experienced non-profit service provider that will be managing both the Sycamore and Sunflower Cabin Communities.  They will be required to offer the cabins to the homeless population of the Third District. They will prioritize the CD3 people living near freeways, most of whom are already involved with a new rapid rehousing pilot with LAHSA, the most vulnerable CD3 people including seniors, and those in closest proximity to the cabin community itself.  Having sheltered people connected to services within the community will be far better for the health and safety of that community than having those same people living across neighborhood sidewalks, along the LA River, or in our parks.

Draft blueprint of Sunflower Cabin Community in Tarzana

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Judge Carter’s goal and Blumenfield’s plan is to help people who are suffering, save the lives of people who are literally dying in the streets and to once again have sidewalks and streets that are safe, easily passable and clean. To read about other homeless initiatives or if you have questions and concerns about this cabin community please click here to find a detailed FAQ or reach out to Team Blumenfield at [email protected] or by calling 818-774-4330.

TEAM BLUMENFIELD AND THE LAHSA HOMELESS COUNT

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) conducts an annual homeless count, with Councilmember Blumenfield and his staff leading the effort in the West Valley for the past few years. In 2020 LAHSA’s results concluded there was a 16% increase in homelessness Citywide. Team Blumenfield will continue to help lead this effort and ensure that LAHSA has the most up to date numbers on the homelessness issue in the West Valley.

Below: Please check out this video to learn more about the LAHSA Homeless Count.

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KEY FINDINGS OF THE 2020 LASHA COUNT

There are 66,436 people in the County of Los Angeles, including 41,290 in the City, who are homeless. Below is a more detailed breakdowns of LAHSA’s findings.

In the City of Los Angeles:

  • Of the 41,290 homeless people, 67% are male, 32% are female, and 2% are transgender.
  • 40% are either victims of domestic violence or are homeless due to fleeing a domestic/intimate partner.
  • 28% have a substance abuse disorder and 25% have a serious mental illness.
  • 5% are veterans.
  • 10% are over the age of 62

In Council District 3:

  • There are 704 homeless people.
  • 41% are either victims of domestic violence or are homeless due to fleeing a domestic/intimate partner.
  • 26% have a substance abuse disorder and 21% have a serious mental illness.
  • 8% are veterans.
  • 10% are over the age of 62.

To look further into the LAHSA results, please go to www.LAHSA.org

Bridge Housing in the West Valley

Councilmember Blumenfield outside of the new Bridge Housing site with Stephanie Klasky-Gamer, President and CEO of LA Family Housing.

To help get more homeless individuals off the street and into housing, Blumenfield secured a Bridge Housing site for the West Valley in Canoga Park. The property, located at 7621 Canoga Avenue, had been privately owned, but used to serve as a County mental health facility. Blumenfield worked directly with County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to acquire and transform the property. The City allocated a conditional grant of $4.3 million to the County to purchase the property, then the County renovated the site and has agreed to provide no less than fifteen years of Bridge Housing services for homeless people.

Unlike an emergency shelter where the clients must leave in the morning and return at night, Bridge Housing enables clients to actually live on site and receive wrap around services until they can transition to a permanent home. It has proven to be a much more successful model with less impact on the neighboring community.

Though this site is a ‘permanent’ Bridge Housing facility, it provides 70 people experiencing homelessness with ‘temporary’ and transitional housing, just like other bridge housing sites opening up around the city. 

Below: Team Blumenfield organizing welcome kits for new residents at the Willows

Project Homekey

In an ongoing effort to provide housing, shelter and services to homeless individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic, Councilmember Blumenfield helped secured the purchase of two hotels for unhoused Angelenos in his district.  These are the first two hotels in Los Angeles that will transition from being temporarily leased sites under what became known as the “Project Roomkey” initiative into permanent sites under the program known as “Project Homekey.”  They will both be owned and operated by LA Family Housing (LAFH). 

With the temporary nature of Project Roomkey, Blumenfield wanted to make sure that no one who entered the program in the West Valley experienced gaps in service or returned to the streets when “project room key” funding runs out. These newly purchased hotels will help local unsheltered people get into stable housing. The Howard Johnson hotel in Reseda (75 rooms) and the Super 8 in Canoga Park (52 rooms) will now serve formerly homeless people on a permanent basis. The Howard Johnson will remain as a transitional housing site in the near term with residents being relocated as appropriate housing is found and more permanent supportive housing is built.  Eventually, it will be converted to permanent housing. The Super 8 will be converted to permanent housing more immediately once kitchenettes have been installed in each room to make that possible. 

Purchased by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) and transferred to LA Family Housing (LAFH) to own and operate, these acquisitions are the result of the successful partnership between the City and State to bring unsheltered residents indoors and prevent vulnerable people from exposure to COVID-19. The City directed the purchase of these two hotels by using several funding sources including State of California Homekey dollars and federal CARES Act money.

Homeless Housing and Recovery Project

Councilmember Blumenfield launched the Homeless Housing and Recovery Project, an important new program that is already helping drug-addicted and mentally ill homeless people who are on the streets of the West Valley get treatment and turn their lives around. The program establishes an innovative partnership between Providence Health & Services, California and the Tarzana Treatment Centers.

Blumenfield said, “I regularly hear from constituents who are understandably very concerned about homeless people they see with obvious mental health or drug issues. Too often we see people screaming at the sky, blatantly using drugs, or worse.  They are in desperate need of help and cannot be left to die on the streets. This problem also impacts our community quality of life and it is simply not acceptable to ignore this suffering. What message does it send to our children that we allow this to happen? While it has sadly become a part of everyday life in Los Angeles, we cannot normalize it, and we cannot stop trying to change it.”

It is not illegal to be homeless and we can’t force people into services even if they are readily available and in front of them. The Courts and Constitution have made that clear. Also, while law enforcement will arrest people when they are in the act of committing a crime or being an apparent danger to themselves or others, they cannot arrest someone who is simply drug addicted or mentally ill; we need to create a better avenue to get folks with severe mental or drug problems off the street and into services. Arresting our way out of this wouldn’t do anything about the underlying mental health and substance abuse issues. With finite resources as a City and with the reality that most human services falls under the purview of the County and not the City, it is imperative that we get creative about new funding sources so that is why he was happy to help create a unique public-private healthcare program like this.

Now, Providence/Cedars Tarzana has trained patient navigators in their ER ready to help homeless people who show up because of an emergency.  Once the patient is stabilized and treated, the navigator attempts to connect them with services and can refer them to one of three special off-site houses where they can recover from their physical and mental trauma. 

They have found that people are often more open to accepting services when approached in the ER when recovering from a low-point in their lives. This program offers first rate treatment combined with transitional housing. Once they have achieved some stability, they can be connected with services and more permanent housing. Even when folks enter the ER for an overdose they still might not enter treatment, but the program has seen very high rates of success. 

This program isn’t  going to end homelessness, but every person who says yes to this help, is another person whose life will be turned around and will be off the streets. And, unlike most programs that are targeted towards people who are seeking help, this program is targeted to those who are often the most service resistant and the most difficult to get off the streets. Blumenfield recently secured additional funding to grow this program. To learn more, read here.

Safe Parking

Safe ParkingLA is a public/private partnership that utilizes parking lots across the City for overnight parking for people living in their vehicles. From about the hours of 9pm to 6am, people who just need a safe place to sleep are able to sleep in a lot with the safety of a security guard and restroom, and leave before the start of the day. Safe ParkingLA vets each person who enters the program and, as a condition, helps them with services such as housing assistance and job training. Only 5 to 10 spots per lot that are being used for this program.

Councilmember Blumenfield converted the parking lot outside his district office into a Safe Parking site for vehicle dwellers at night. Click on the thumbnail below to watch Blumenfield's video on Safe Parking. Blumenfield is working on another Safe Parking site for the West Valley that will be online in Tarzana.

Currently there are several lots up and running including one at a parish in Koreatown and one at the VA in West Los Angeles, with several more to be rolled out soon across Los Angeles. Blumenfield has a motion to create a buffer zone around these Safe Parking lots where “No Dwelling” in one’s vehicle can be enforced. This will help incentivize more Safe Parking lots.

Councilmember Blumenfield and Councilmember Joe Buscaino visited the site in Koreatown to assess impacts on the surrounding community, hear from a few parishioners who wanted to be a part of the solution as well as meet some of the homeless people who are taking advantage of this program. Learn more about their visit here.

 

Important Frontline Contacts

For Community Members Who Would Like to Help:

Ascencia

(818) 246-7900

1851 Tyburn St. Glendale, 91204

 

San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission

(818) 785-4476 

8756 Canby Ave. Northridge, 91325 

 

Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA)

Emergency Response Team—(213) 225-6581

 

Family Rescue Center

(818) 884-7587

22103 Vanowen St., Canoga Park 9130

 

For Homeless in Need of Services:

Department of Mental Health

Mobile Triage Team- (818) 610-6720

 

LA Family Housing

Homeless Family Solutions- (818) 255– 2766

Services for Veterans Families- (818) 255-2607

 

The Homeless Families Solutions System

Overall Homeless Services- 211

 

San Fernando Rescue Mission

Overall Homeless Services- (818) 785-4476

 

 

HOT MEALS/ FOOD PANTRIES

Prince of Peace Episcopal*

5 pm Dinner - 2nd and 4th Saturday

Food Pantry: M-Th 10-3, F 10-2

3rd Saturday 10-2

(818) 346-5554          

5700 Rudnick Ave, Woodland Hills, CA 91367*       

           

Our Redeemer Lutheran*

12 pm Lunch – Thursday, Friday

Food Pantry: W-F 10-2:30 pm

(818) 341-1629          

8520 Winnetka Ave, Winnetka, CA 91306**

 

St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church**

1 pm Lunch – M, W, Sat

Food Pantry: Saturday, by appointment

(818) 213-1067          

19855 Sherman Way, Winnetka, CA 91306

           

Family Rescue Center Presbyterian

5 pm Dinner – Saturday

Food Pantry: M-F 9-1 pm

(818) 884-7587          

22103 Vanowen St, Canoga Park, CA 91303 

           

United Methodist Church*

11 am Lunch – Wednesday

Food Pantry: Wednesday 11-1 pm

(818) 344-7135          

18120 Saticoy St, Reseda, CA 91335 

           

New Friends Homeless Center**

6 pm Dinner - Friday

(818) 346-1617          

5650 Shoup Ave, Woodland Hills, CA 91367

 

 

Guadalupe Center     

Food Pantry: M-F 9-12 (TTH bread only)

(213) 251-3549          

6933 Remmet Ave, Canoga Park, CA 91303  

 

One Generation Senior Center**     

11:45 Lunch – Monday through Friday

Food Pantry: 3rd Tuesday, last Thursday

(818) 705-2345

18255 Victory Blvd, Reseda, CA 91335***  

           

Canoga Park Senior Center**          

11:30 Lunch – Monday through Friday

(818) 340-2633

7326 Jordan Ave, Canoga Park, CA 91303***          

 

*Public restrooms available for same hours as food pantry

** Public restrooms available for same hours as hot meal

*** Seniors Only

 

 

TEMPORARY HOUSING AND SHELTER

New Economics for Women

Housing intake for families: Thursdays 9-4

Call or drop by for intake: (818) 887-6920

21400 Saticoy St, Canoga Park CA 91304

Connected to Affordable Housing Units

 

Winnetka Village (waiting list 4 years)          

Permanent Supportive Housing for Seniors

Call for availability: (818) 710-1305

20750 Sherman Way, Winnetka CA 91306    

                       

Haven Hills: Domestic violence shelter

Hotline: (818) 887-6589         

 

Angels Way Maternity Home     

For pregnant women.

Call for intake: (818) 346-2229

 

Safe Parking LA  

Safe parking spots, 24/7 restrooms for clients

Call or go online for intake: (323) 210-3375, safeparkingla.org        

 

Tarzana Treatment Center   

Housing intake for addicts,

Detox beds, 30-90 day beds

(888) 777-8565          

18646 Oxnard St, Tarzana CA 91356

           

Salvation Army Drug Rehabilitation

Drug treatment beds, male only

(818) 883-5527           (must test clean for bed)

21375 Roscoe Blvd, Canoga Park CA 91304

           

Providence Tarzana Medical Center

Emergency Room patient navigators to connect patients with services and housing.

18321 Clark St, Tarzana, CA 91356   

 

 

OTHER KEY RESOURCES:

Woodland Hills Library

Housing intakes for homeless individuals

Tuesdays 12-1 (call ahead)

(818) 226-0017

22200 Ventura Blvd, Woodland Hills CA 91364

RV Wastewater Disposal Site

16560 Oxnard St, Tarzana 91356

(voucher required, enquire with LAHSA or LAPD)

 

LA Family Housing (818) 982-4091

LA Homeless Services Authority (213) 225-6581

*showers available Monday 10-12

**showers available Wednesday 10-12


To learn more about Councilmember Blumenfield’s Homelessness efforts in the West Valley, or if you have any other City related question or concern, please call his office at (818) 774-4330, go to his website on homelessness at WestValleyChange.com or email him at [email protected]

Homeless Connect Days

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Blumenfield at his Homeless Connect Day in Woodland Hills

Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, his staff and local service providers regularly help homeless individuals and families in the West San Fernando Valley via "Homeless Connect" days. Blumenfield has hosted many of these events, bringing hundreds of homeless people directly to services such as Los Angeles Family Housing, addiction intervention, haircuts and job assistance, helping them get off the streets

“These events bring together the people who need help with the organizations that can provide shelter, food, legal assistance, addiction services and more,” said Blumenfield. “While we can't force people to take services, Homeless Connect days help encourage people to accept help that is offered locally.”

Below: Check out this video taken at a recent Homeless Connect Day in the West Valley.

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Permanent Supportive Housing

When it comes to providing shelter and services for homeless individuals, Blumenfield believes permanent supportive housing (PSH) is the greatest option the City can offer. While the high cost associated with PSH is one component the City must improve upon, that has not hindered Blumenfield’s efforts. Over the years, Blumenfield worked to secure funding for the construction of a  PSH site called Winnetka Village, which is currently housing seniors experiencing income and housing insecurity, who would have fallen into homelessness. Two additional PSH are under construction and Blumenfield recently requested a feasibility report on converting some parking lots in Reseda into housing. As an advocate for creatively finding solutions to end homelessness, Blumenfield has never opposed a PSH proposal in his district and proactively worked to identify sites in the West Valley.

Creative Financing to Support Affordable Housing

Developing affordable housing units can be challenging due to procedural red tape and lack of available financing, but Blumenfield is spearheading efforts in City Hall to get over these hurdles and increase the affordable housing stock. 

Blumenfield recognizes state and federal funding sources for affordable housing programs almost exclusively focus on providing housing for low income households and leave out the “missing middle,” comprising households that earn too much to qualify for traditional housing programs but not enough to afford market-rate housing. Through Blumenfield’s efforts, the City is exploring alternative financing tools such as joining the California Statewide Communities Development Authority (CSCDA), a joint powers authority that would support the issuance of bonds for the production, preservation and protection of essential middle-income rental housing. 

Another issue Blumenfield recognizes in building affordable housing in a timely manner is the need to develop plans that meet all the necessary code and zoning requirements. Applicants ranging from single-family home owners to affordable housing developers all must undergo extensive review in order to ensure that all projects meet applicable zoning and building code requirements. While these reviews are essential to constructing housing that is safe, the design and review process can add months or years to a project and increase project costs substantially, in order to reduce the time it takes to construct housing while at the same time ensuring that it is constructed to zoning and building codes, Blumenfield introduced a measure to have the City create pre-approved standard plans for the most frequent building types and make them free to the public for the purposes of reducing project costs and accelerating housing construction. These construction projects apply to ADUs, bungalows, and multi-family homeless and affordable housing projects.

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