My action plan for the immediate future regarding homelessness not only in San Pedro, but also across Los Angeles:
1. Expansion of our LAHSA Emergency Response Team and Adding the Mental Health Street Team
Because of the success of our LAHSA Emergency response team which came online at the at the beginning of 2015 and which is responsible for engaging and matching 76 people with housing options, I will be adding new teams our efforts! Previously we had a two man team. Starting immediately, we will have six interventionists doing the work. Additionally, thanks to support from Supervisor Don Knabe, we will be supplementing the efforts of the expanded Emergency Response Team by adding a two-member Mental Health street team that will engage and work with our homeless population.
UPDATE: Councilman Buscaino released his LAHSA Emergency Response Team statistics which revealed the outstanding work the team has done in District 15 while also highlighting the complexity of providing services. The City cannot force an individual to accept help and these statistic show the effort it takes to build relationships with someone to get them to the place to accept help. SEE THE STATS...
2. Create a downtown San Pedro and Gaffey St. Foot Beat Patrol
In addition to the continued quality of life car, LAPD will be adding a footbeat patrol in downtown San Pedro and on Gaffey St. between 1st and 14th streets.
3. Calling on our South Bay neighbors to develop a comprehensive approach to homelessness
I have written a letter addressed to all of the Mayors in the South Bay including Long Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, Torrance, Lomita, Carson and Gardena requesting their buy-in for shared responsibility for homelessness issues. Like we are doing here in the Harbor Area, they need to step up their commitment to provide services and housing. We know that decentralization of services coupled with permanent supportive housing is the answer to solving this problem. It is not fair that a few communities in the County house the majority of service providers. In the letter, I am calling for the creation of a special committee within the South Bay Council of Governments focused on homelessness, that will allow us to share experiences, ideas and best practices in our respective cities.
UPDATE: Early this year, Councilman Buscaino held the first South Bay Cities Homelessness Committee meeting. This forum was created for cities to work together, share ideas and experiences to address homelessness across the region and yesterday, the County followed Councilman Buscaino's lead and asked 54 cities to contribute money to a range of countyhomeless initiatives. READ MORE about this exciting effort here...
4. Promoting more public and private and investment into Permanent Supportive Housing
We know that permanent supportive housing is the correct path toward solving this issue. Currently my district has 311 supportive housing units that have recently become available OR are in the process of being built. They include: Vermont Villas, Blue Butterfly Village, 127th Street Apartments and El Segundo Apartments. Because I know that Permanent Supportive Housing is the right path towards a real solution, I will work towards promoting more public and private investment into Permanent Supportive Housing.
UPDATE: San Pedro Chamber of Commerce hosted a workshop educating landlords about Section 8 housing vouchers. In order to fully address homelessness the City must also address its affordable housing crisis and one way to do that is to expand the City and surrounding communities' supply of Section 8 housing, so we can prevent people from falling intohomelessness. If you are a property owner interested in learning more about Section 8 Housing please attend the April 7th Owner Orientation from 10am to 12:30pm at HACLA 2600 Wilshire Blvd, LA, CA 90057 Board Room, Lobby. Please call(213) 252-4249 to RSVP. Learn more about Section 8 Landlord Benefits here. Late in 2015 Councilman Buscaino also helped open the 79-unit Vermont Villas supportive housing project which mainly serves homeless veterans in the Harbor Gateway.
5. San Pedro and Wilmington Homelessness Taskforces
Because there is so much interest and passion in town about the issue of homelessness, I am launching the San Pedro Community Homelessness Taskforce which will be co-chaired by Ray Regalado, San Pedro resident and Senior Relations Specialist at Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. In the next few weeks I will name the rest of the task force members from our community who will will be responsible for shaping community standards related to dealing with homelessness. The first assignment I will give the task force is to create a plan for the coordinated consolidation of food banks in town. We learned tonight that the unintended consequences of the simple act of offering food may enable an individual to continue a negative spiral of substance abuse and illegal behavior. Food should be available to those in need, but it should come from professional sources that have an ability to offer additional services, making the individuals with the highest need more visible to those that can help.
UPDATE: The San Pedro and Wilmington Taskforces have been working in their communities to address each neighborhoods specific problems. The Wilmington Taskforce forces has been meeting for the past couple of months and is working on creating storage for service providers working with the homeless to not only store supplies, but also furniture so when a person is placed into housing the providers can help make it feel like home to help keep the person in housing.
CLEAN UPS: Many of you saw the video of the clean up we did at Ante’s Restaurant. That was a large and high profile encampment and that is why many of you already know about it. However, we do do cleanups every weekend. I will continue cleaning these encampments whenever and wherever they materialize. As we learned tonight, they are unsanitary, illegal, dangerous and are a magnet for drug dealers and rapists. Allowing encampments incentivizes the worst case scenario: a place for drug dealers and gangsters to prey on these individuals.
UPDATE: Throughout Council District 15, the City's Watershed Protection Unit is keeping our public areas and parks safe and clean by routinely removing hazardous waste. SEE THE PHOTOS...
7. Develop City and County Road Maps to Address Homelessness
Mayor Garcetti's State of Emergency regarding homelessness and his homelessness investment plan. Over the past eight months, we have illustrated a proof of concept, and are scaling our efforts. His plan authorizes $100 million which will provide even more resources and our office will take advantage of its offerings to help even more people come off the streets and into housing. Additionally, the County of Los Angeles has committed $600,000 towards this issue in the Harbor and South Bay areas.
COMPLETED: The Los Angeles City Council approved the Comprehensive Homeless Strategy. This strategy lays out the road map for the city's efforts over the next decade to address homelessness. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors also approved their homeless strategies in February.
8. Promote Services Providers in Council District 15
Lastly, at the Forum we heard that Harbor Interfaith's services work! We have seen and heard from their most recent clients, we have heard our panelist sing their praises. It is blatantly obvious that we should do all we can to help Harbor Interfaith scale their efforts. So tonight, I am proud to promote the launch of the Harbor Interfaith Go Fund Me campaign.
UPDATE: So far the community has raised over $4,600 for Harbor Interfaith not including in kind donations and volunteer hours. If you would like to donate click here.