January 8, 2023
By: City News Service
Originally published in Spectrum News1
Note: Multimedia journalist Chace Beech spoke with a homeless individual and Dr. Coley King, director of homeless services at Venice Family Clinic about the Inside Safe program. Click the link above to watch the video.
LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A program announced by Mayor Karen Bass in an effort to provide housing for people living in encampments is being implemented in Venice, officials announced Wednesday.
The program, called the Inside Safe Initiative, will work to identify the “highest need encampments” that have a chronic and high demand for services, according to an executive directive signed by Bass last month. Using citywide coordination between various departments and agencies, the action plan calls for identifying interim housing and eventually permanent housing resources for each person living in the encampments.
The program initially began in Hollywood at encampments near Cahuenga and the Hollywood (101) Freeway.
According to Bass and Councilwoman Traci Park — who represents Venice — people living in encampments near the intersection of Sunset and Pacific avenues have accepted housing following outreach, but they did not specify how many people.
Some advocates for the homeless have been skeptical of the mayor’s plan, fearing it could lead to encampments being cleared against the wishes of their residents. Bass has denied that the program would serve a punitive strategy, noting a focus on housing and services and “not on law enforcement.”
The city has worked to identify motels that could provide temporary housing to those living in encampments, according to officials. Also under consideration are master leasing buildings and using shared housing.
“I’m proud to be locking arms with Councilwoman Park to change the way we approach homelessness in Los Angeles to bring people inside in a strategic and lasting way,” Bass said.
The mayor, who declared a state of emergency over homelessness as her official act, said she spent Tuesday morning with Park conducting outreach with encampment residents. Park, like Bass, took office a few weeks ago.
“This initiative is to show that the government can be a place to heal,” Park said. “We don’t just want to say it; we want to show it. Putting people in rooms without the care they need doesn’t work. We need to ensure that they have adequate access to services they need, including mental health, trauma and substance use services for the unhoused.”
The emergency declaration — which is scheduled to last six months — allows Bass to take more aggressive executive actions to confront the homelessness crisis, though the City Council will have to sign off on it every 30 days.