Westside is a microcosm of Los Angeles as projects to combat homelessness face logistical and financial challenges By Kellie Chudzinski Despite state, city, and countywide efforts to house those living on the streets the picture of homelessness on the Westside continues to look bleak with rising numbers, more and larger encampments, increased incidents with residents, and stalled permanent housing projects. The need for more housing is growing rapidly every year. The numbers recorded at the start of 2020 show 41,290 people experiencing homelessness in LA city and 70% are unsheltered and struggling to survive in tents, encampments, vehicles, and other locations. In 2019, the Westside saw the greatest increase in homelessness in the county, growing by 19%. Though, that number is likely higher now, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the states two months after the most recent count, with estimates suggesting homelessness is 16% higher since the pandemic began. Observationally, residents are feeling growth in the unhoused population living on the streets. Recent numbers by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) shows that Council District 11 on the Westside, has one of the highest numbers of unsheltered people with just under 3,200. Those numbers may not fully reflect the true number as the pandemic has sent more people to the street with high visibility of homeless encampments in Venice. One resident who spoke with The Argonaut estimated that...Read More
George Story and Photos by Ashley Nash George Floyd’s life has been memorialized across oceans, states, countries and the Westside. At noon on Sunday, June 7, hundreds gathered outside First Baptist Church of Venice to grieve the loss of Floyd and all others whose lives have been impacted by police brutality. Community organization 4 Corners 4 Justice organized the memorial via social media and encouraged attendees to bring flowers, candles and wear masks while social distancing. After an opening prayer, Venice High School history teacher and 4C4J supporter Soni Lloyd spoke about the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and countless others. While reminding the crowd that Black history, in America, has been a long and painful one, he also encouraged allies to do their part. “This gathering is just to get people to join the fight, joining the struggle against imperialism and racism,” said Lloyd. Venice High School alum Shaya then sang the Black National Anthem to commemorate the sacrifices of Black ancestors, forefathers and foremothers. “Lift ev’ry voice and sing ‘til earth and heaven ring…ring with the harmonies of Liberty. Let our rejoicing rise, high as the list’ning skies. Let it resound, loud as the rolling sea…,” she sang. Following an 8 minute and 46 second moment of silence, the length of time that police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, members...Read More
Area Seniors receive flowers as part of Westside Pacific Villages’ COVID-19 response By Christina Campodonico Last Friday, some area seniors were surprised by an extra special delivery — fresh flowers! After fanning out from Playa del Rey, volunteers delivered around 140 bouquets to seniors in Westchester, Playa Vista, Mar Vista and Ladera Heights. The colorful posies, made possible through a donation by the Delavigne Family of Playa del Rey to up cheer up isolated seniors and support local businesses, were arranged by Culver Boulevard florist Flowers by Felicia and delivered as part of Westside Pacific Villages’ COVID-19 response. The nonprofit is also doing free grocery delivery and pharmacy pickups for area seniors during this time, but WPV’s Executive Director Carol Kitabayashi soon realized that seniors couldn’t live off bread and water alone, so to speak. The idea for weekly care packages came “naturally.” “Once a week, we do a special delivery to the folks … to cheer them up,” said Kitabayashi over the phone last week. “Today, it was a flower delivery.” “Everyone I delivered to lit up when they saw the flowers,” said Darlene Fukuji, a WPV volunteer and President of the Westchester Rotary. “They loved it. They were like, ‘Oh my gosh, flowers! …. I haven’t received flowers in a long time.'” One flower recipient followed up with a grateful message to WPV’s voicemail, recalled Kitabayashi. “This...Read More
• The Exchange Club of Culver City joins city government and the Culver City Chamber of Commerce to host the inaugural Tribute to Heroes – Field of Valor, displaying a flag for each of the city’s first responders from Nov. 8 through Nov. 12 in Veterans Memorial Park. A ceremony honoring veterans and public safety personnel happens at 10 a.m. Saturday (Nov. 9) at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 4117 Overland Ave. Proceeds benefit New Directions for Veterans’ efforts to help homeless Los Angeles-area vets. culvertribute.org. • Rep Ted Lieu is hosting a Conversations with Veterans forum for veterans and the public from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 10) at the West Los Angeles VA campus. Rose Garden, 11301 Wilshire Blvd. (323) 651-1040 or eventbrite.com • The West Los Angeles VA campus hosts its annual Veterans Day celebration on Monday (Nov. 11) with a formal program from 9 to 10 a.m. followed by barbeque, music and entertainment for veterans and their families. Orlando Quad, 11301 Wilshire Blvd. losangeles.va.gov • Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis and other community leaders honor the service of veterans with a program from 9 to 9:30 a.m. on Monday (Nov. 11) at the city’s Veterans Memorial in Palisades Park, erected 20 years ago this week. Santa Monica Police Department explorers will post the colors. The event gives special recognition to Veterans for Peace, which maintains...Read More
Santa Monica’s chronic homelessness interventions show promising results By Gary Walker As Los Angeles-area communities grapple with rising homeless populations despite increased government spending to combat homelessness, a newly published RAND Corporation study documents positive outcomes of a Santa Monica initiative that intensely focuses social services delivery on some of the city’s most challenging cases. In short, the study finds that proactive social services interventions for the chronically homeless can greatly reduce the frequency of their negative interactions with police, fire and other emergency responders in the process. From September 2016 to June 2018, RAND researchers tracked the efforts of Santa Monica’s city-funded Homeless Multidisciplinary Street Team, which includes housing and substance abuse case managers, a medical doctor, psychiatrist, physician assistant and a formerly homeless peer support specialist. The city contracts with local nonprofit The People Concern to operate the team, and The People Concern has a contract with Venice Family Clinic to provide field-based services. “What makes this approach so unique is that it allows us to engage with the people with the most need and a population that is among the hardest to engage with. Less than 10% of the entire unhoused population in Santa Monica is chronically homeless” (meaning without shelter for at least five years), said Alisa Orduña, Santa Monica’s senior adviser on homelessness. Santa Monica initially invested $600,000 in the program to target 26 homeless...Read More
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