Hope is on the horizon as COVID-19 Vaccines become more accessible in the West Valley. I can tell you after personally volunteering at the Pierce College site several times now just how much getting a vaccine means to people. I love seeing the feeling of relief, freedom and joy come over people as they exit the vaccination tents, albeit sometimes with a sore arm. I am eager to get the shot myself and experience it firsthand.
In this ‘buzz’ I’ll share some updates regarding COVID-19, homelessness, and plenty of local community news--such as announcing that the Sherman Way Great Streets Project is officially completed! Stay safe, stay healthy.
Letter from Bob- Housing to Support People Overcoming Substance Abuse
Providing the right kind of housing at the right time is essential to help unsheltered Angelenos transition from life on the street into a better situation. Often they need help with substance abuse or mental health issues, and providing these services is key to their success. That’s why I helped launch the successful Providence Hospital/Tarzana Treatment Center Homeless Housing and Recovery Program (HHRP) program in 2019, to help treat and house unsheltered people who wind up in the hospital’s Emergency Room. The program was born during my extensive discussions with Tarzana Providence Hospital about their facility upgrades and it has blossomed over the past two years to include three affiliated off-site houses where clients recover from their physical, mental or drug related issues.
While we can’t let requiring treatment or sobriety be a barrier to housing under federal fair housing rules, finding a good match for housing once someone exits a 30 day program to get sober has proven very challenging. We have heard from the lived experience of people on the street, including during our LAHSA 101 freeway pilot that housed 59 people in fall 2020, that people with addiction often want to get clean, but there are too few options for government supported housing that enables them to stay sober once they do.
This week the City Council approved my motion to direct the CAO and LAHSA to find a way to fund housing that encourages sobriety to meet this need. It’s not right for everyone, but for some people it is life-changing. Not all homeless people have addiction issues, but many do. Even under the best of circumstances, recovery from alcohol or drugs is an uphill battle and many people relapse before they succeed. Providing housing they want, which for many includes a community of like minded people who are trying to get sober, can help them succeed.
My goal is to have an appropriate housing placement available for all unsheltered people in my district, and housing that supports sobriety is one piece of the puzzle we need to solve.
Update on The Willows Bridge Housing
Recent Spot Cleaning
After the recent opening of The Willows, this week was scheduled to be the first comprehensive clean up in the nearby Canoga Park area (SECZ). Last week Team Blumenfield and Pastor Huck had been doing outreach in the exact planned cleanup area so unhoused people could prepare themselves.
Since it rained on the day of the cleanup, LA Sanitation workers were only able to run a spot cleaning, which is still an improvement to remove some trash and debris. While on location the workers did not displace anyone living in the right of way and did not have any police presence. At the site, a skip loader was present to pick up large items such as palm fronts which had fallen in the area. Even though it was not a comprehensive clean up, showers were still made available as they always are during comprehensive cleanups. These services were promised to the communities surrounding bridge homes throughout the City and If done properly they can be implemented humanely, without police intervention, improve the safety and health conditions of the unhoused, and require only a short period of time where any particular area has to be vacated to allow for comprehensive cleaning.
Stories from the Housed
Blumenfield visits housed individuals at The Willows Bridge Home
Recently Councilmember Blumenfield visited the Willows to learn how some of its recently sheltered individuals have been managing since they accepted Housing. Blumenfield spent time with Nathaniel and Joe who now live at the Willows. Nathaniel used to live on Bassett Street and Joe used to live on Farralone. Both of them reminisced about having been visited by Blumenfield when they were living on the street, both told Blumenfield how much they now enjoy living at The Willows, and both were very grateful for the opportunity to be there and optimistic about their future. Joe gave the Councilmember a personal tour because he wanted to show off his new living situation. While on site, Blumenfield also learned about a client named Susan, who has now been matched with a Permanent Supportive Housing unit and was getting ready to leave the Willows. This is great news and means the Bridge Housing site is working and giving unhoused folks the ability to get back on their feet. The Willows currently houses 38 individuals and will be able to more than double its capacity as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. The site accommodates pets and has special living quarters for couples.
Emergency Rental Assistance Program Round 2 Opens for Low-Income Renters
Starting March 30, eligible Angeleno renters may apply for the second round of the City of LA’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. If you were put on the waiting list last year, you will be the first to be contacted by HCIDLA. Learn more about eligibility and the application process at https://hcidla.lacity.org
Blumenfield Announces Completion of Sherman Way Complete Street Project
Newly Completed Sherman Way Great Streets Project in Reseda
Construction is now complete on the Sherman Way Great Street project between Wilbur Avenue and Lindley Avenue! Launched by Councilmember Blumenfield in 2014, this $3.5 million streetscape project will beautify and revitalize Reseda's commercial core--especially important now as we are emerging from COVID-imposed restrictions--and it will improve safety for all road users. The improvements include new "Reseda" monument signs on Sherman Way near Lindley and Wilbur, new trees and landscaping in the medians and sidewalks along the entire 1-mile stretch of Sherman Way, a new pedestrian crossing at Sherman Way/Capps, new street furniture, a mini-roundabout at Hart Street/Baird Street, and more. This project is part of Councilmember Blumenfield's Reseda Rising initiative. The project elements were chosen through a community-based planning process. Please visit Sherman Way to check out these fantastic new improvements and, while you are there, be sure to shop and dine at one of Reseda's local small businesses.
Other Important Updates:
Blumenfield Directs $800,000 from Community Reinvestment Funds to CD3 Nonprofits Engaged in Youth Programming, Reimagining Public Safety
After the City Council voted to reallocate $88M to Reimagine Public Safety, most of which went to Council Districts in South LA, Blumenfield was able to direct $800,000 to go directly to West Valley organizations focused on providing employment and/or services to underserved communities. Funds were allocated to Council Districts based on certain census tract data. Blumenfield awarded the funds to the following nonprofits: LA Conservation Corps, Boys and Girls Club of the West Valley, New Economics for Women-Canoga Park, Alliance for Community Empowerment, Guadalupe Center, and the Gr818ers.
Warner Center Planning Implementation Board Holds First Neighborhood Protection Program Meeting
The Neighborhood Protection Program, a Standing Committee of the Warner Center Planning Implementation Board, convened for the first time last month. This group is made up of residents and stakeholders who live near the Warner Center area and have an expressed interest in identifying unforeseen impacts the Warner Center Plan may have on neighborhoods and businesses, such as traffic congestion on local thruways. To learn more about this committee and when they meet next, please contact [email protected]
Aimed at Curbing Plastic Waste, City Council Passes Utensils on Request Measure
Blumenfield joined his City Council colleagues this week to vote in support of a measure requesting the City Attorney to prepare a Foodware Accessories Upon Request ordinance that would require restaurants and other food service providers, to provide all disposable foodware accessories, only upon the request of the customer. This measure cites and was built on Blumenfield’s 2018 motion to include plastic utensils in the City’s straws-on-request ordinance.
COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Ramps Up and Eligibility Expands
Blumenfield at Pierce College Vaccine Site Friday, March 19
LA County is swiftly ramping up its capacity to vaccinate Angelenos and has announced new eligibility criteria so more folks can make COVID-19 vaccine appointments. Anyone who is experiencing homelessness, lives in a congregate setting, has certain health conditions that put them at higher risk, or works in certain high risk professions is now eligible.
Click here to read the new eligibility list. Pierce College, the City’s second largest vaccine site, is administering on average 2000 vaccines a day and dramatically improving the lives of thousands of West Valley residents and Angelenos from all across the County. It has the capacity to administer 5000 vaccines a day once more doses are available. Councilmember Blumenfield is proud to have such an important operation taking place right here in the West Valley and encourages anyone who is eligible to try to book an appointment by clicking the link here. If you are unable to book, please continue to check the page for availability.
What’s Reopening in LA County
Blumenfield Tours AMC Theaters to Learn About Reopening Protocols
Restaurants and businesses are slowly starting to reopen. As of this week, Los Angeles County restaurants are able to host customers indoors, and movie theaters and fitness centers are now able to open. These openings are all at limited capacity. Visit the website for LA County Public Health Department to learn details. Councilmember Blumenfield recently toured AMC Theaters to learn how their innovative reopening protocols will be put into action. AMC is using software technology that automatically blocks out seats within a six foot radius when you reserve seats online. This allows people to enjoy a night out while still socially distancing from folks not in their group. Face masks are still required to be worn at all times, unless folks are eating/drinking. LA is slowly opening up to more family and friend events and re-employing more and more people.
Federal Stimulus Funds Helping City
Last week, President Biden helped jump start the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by getting the American Recovery Plan over the finish line. This $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package offers a plethora of resources for renters, landlords, employees and businesses. It also will help enable schools to reopen safely and it will provide $1,400 stimulus checks to millions of Americans. But it’s also a game changer for the City of Los Angeles which heavily relies on revenues that have been impacted by the pandemic like the hotel tax, parking meters and fees for everything ranging from zoo admissions to building permits..
As vice chair of the City Council’s Budget Committee, Blumenfield received regular reports about the severe impact that the pandemic has on City revenues, leading to a projected budget shortfall this fiscal year of more than $700 million. Every department had to make cuts, and the City’s employees made tough sacrifices to help fill that budget hole. Today, we are not out of the woods but with this relief package there is more hope on the horizon. Click here to learn more about what is included in the package.
Team Blumenfield is partnering with the Los Angeles Public Library’s (LAPL) photo archive to highlight historic photos of the West Valley. This week's photo was taken on August 24, 1964 at the grand opening of the Topanga Plaza, now the Westfield Topanga. Over the decades this site has brought in countless job opportunities for residents living in the West Valley and it has become a fixture in the community. To learn more about the archived photo, click here.