Homeless Task Force Briefed on Shelter Programs by City Officials • The Malibu Times
Homeless Initiative and Los Angeles County Executive Director Ashlee Oh presented on the county’s Homeless Initiative, strategies, funding, social enterprise and their new efforts at the homelessness task force meeting on February 15.
The homelessness initiative prioritizes strengthening collaboration between the county and various stakeholders. According to Oh, the regional coordination and innovation funding for 2022-2023 is $10 million, which is allocated to 88 cities in the region. This funds feasibility studies on housing, job training and job placement, outreach and navigation, grocery store programs, permanent housing, shared housing, and more.
Interim housing plays a critical role in engaging and transitioning homeless individuals and families into more stable housing. Oh says this development is relevant to the Alternative Sleeping Location (ASL) the Homeless Task Force is considering.
“Interim housing plays a critical role in engaging and transitioning our homeless individuals and families into more stable housing,” Oh explained. “Crisis housing transitional housing is a 24/7 emergency housing situation where they receive meals, housing navigation and support services so they can transition to housing more permanent.”
From July 2017 to September 2021, the LA County Homeless Initiative was able to place 74,862 people in permanent housing, 99,350 people in temporary housing, increased employment income and benefits for 32,902 people, and helped prevent 19,528 people from becoming homeless.
Despite the increase in housing placements, the homeless count continues to rise in LA County. In 2020, 66,433 people are homeless.
“This means that even if we help 100 people out of homelessness every day, on the same day the number of people who become homeless far exceeds this number, so it is very difficult to reduce the number of homeless people. shelter,” Oh said. “It’s something we’re working on.”
Those who continue to experience homelessness remain consistently underserved and in need of intensive intervention. Oh said due to lack of system flow, many are stuck in temporary accommodation or on the streets for an extended period of time.
For the 4th Annual Evaluation of the Homelessness Initiative, the number of persistently underserved homeless people more than doubled between 2017 and 2019, from 16,000 to 35,500.
The new homelessness initiative framework approach includes six strategies to coordinate, prevent, connect, house and stabilize prevention and is linked to former homeless residents.
LAHSA’s Associate Director of Interim Housing, Jaclyn Grant, introduced the various beds in interim housing programs in LA County and how they work.
“As part of LA County, the programs that operate through LAHSA all operate with shared philosophies and approaches that include programs operating with low barriers, which means there are as few restrictions as possible to entering a shelter,” Grant said. “We recognize that the best route to shelter services is to reduce the barriers that might prevent someone from accessing temporary accommodation.”
Grant said their programs use a trauma-informed approach and operate from a harm reduction perspective.
Grant provided more information about the types of housing they provide for people experiencing homelessness, such as youth, those experiencing domestic violence, and FEMA’s response to COVID-19 with Project Roomkey.
Task force member Scott Dittrich asked if they could access the winter shelters during red flag days, October through February, so people living in tents in Malibu could access them.
“Currently, winter shelter programs operate between November and March 31; however, the winter shelter program does not take into account the dry season, but County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s office supports this motion, and it is essential to address encampments in these areas, areas high-severity fires, especially those that are difficult to access by foot,” Oh said.
Kelly Pessis, a member of the task force, asked if there would be funds available for projects such as the ASL project they are considering.
“While we can’t just support serving specific voters, we support the city by prioritizing it,” Oh said. “Prior to the opening of the shelter, we are asking the city to work with their vendors in this area to really engage all homeless clients in your city to create a list of names and get them on board so that clients are ready to move in as soon as those doors open, and they’ll have priority.
In 2021, an informal tally by the Malibu Homelessness Working Group showed 157 people without homes in Malibu. Oh referenced that number and predicted there would be a waiting list of Malibu voters needing a bed and not shared with other cities like Santa Monica.
“We’re pretty confident that you’ll be able to fill those people primarily with Malibu homeless people,” Oh said.
Pessis asked who they could contact to help them navigate the start of the ASL project.
Task Force member Terry Davis raised a question and concern about the 11,000 beds available versus the thousands of homeless people.
“The difficulty of setting up a shelter giving NIMBYs and permanent accommodation not being available, it just seems like there is no money problem, the money is there and available and accessible, c is the number of beds, we need more to answer that,” Davis said. “It sounds wonderful when you talk about all these programs, but the ease, the ability to use the programs, to access them, to access the funds, and all that, the obstacles seem endless.”
Oh, and Grant couldn’t answer the question due to the timing of the meeting.
People Concern Program Manager Jason Flores gave a perspective on what an outreach team member does when approaching people who are homeless, but also how to engage with those suffering from mental illness and addiction.
Flores said their clients have encountered obstacles such as identification, source of income and social security.
“It’s frustrating for our customers; it’s hard for us to try to maintain that level of trust that took so long to achieve, and now it’s like we’re back to square one,” Flores said. “It’s frustrating.”
Dittrich asked Oh and Grant where they could set up their shelter, having no residential or commercial industrial areas in Malibu.
“Malibu isn’t the first to ask, ‘pick a place outside of our city,’ but I agree that Malibu is a small area, and the composition of your mix of residential and commercial buildings is very different from other areas,” Oh mentioned. “Especially where they are more commercially developed.”
Oh recommends increasing the 25 units that Malibu plans to increase to 40 units onsite to achieve economies of scale.
“It’s not just the number of units, but it’s how quickly we’re able to move people from interim housing to permanent housing efficiently,” Oh said. “We understand that it’s difficult and expensive to build these new sites, so we’re also trying to see how we could increase throughput to help people transition more quickly, which will open up capacity.”