Joint statement: Housing is the key for people living on the Venice Boardwalk, not criminalization and threats

June 10, 2021

This week, the LA County Sheriff and others unfamiliar with Venice and its unhoused residents held press events on the Venice Boardwalk calling for the forced displacement and criminalization of unhoused people in order to “clean up” the Boardwalk. Time and time again, this approach has proven to fail in Los Angeles, and cause harm to people already dealing with crisis, trauma, and the extreme lack of affordable housing across our region and especially on the Westside. While the Sheriff claimed his team would engage in outreach for a few weeks before clearing the area by the 4th of July, his outreach team is not connected to the housing and service organizations in Venice and there are nowhere near enough resources, unfortunately, to house everyone in three weeks. Additionally, outreach connected to threats of enforcement and displacement only further isolates most people who have been pushed around from the streets to shelters to jail and back to the streets for years.

Everyone can see the housing and humanitarian crisis in our neighborhood and in our region. While exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, it is the result of decades of disinvestment in affordable housing and other critical resources, systemic racism in land use policies, housing, employment and mass incarceration policies, and growing income and wealth inequality. Not one politician, one law enforcement official, one non-profit, one neighborhood group is going to suddenly have the ability to solve this crisis because it’s summer and people think that tourists, visitors and local housed and unhoused people are unable to share the beautiful and inclusive space of the Boardwalk and Venice Beach. We actually can share the space, be kind to unhoused neighbors, continue the local outreach and street medicine efforts that support people until they are housed, and put more resources into permanent housing solutions for folks on our streets.

Our collective community will work to provide emergency services, secure, preserve and build more housing, and stand in solidarity to protect the rights of unhoused folks, and hope that anyone interested in helping alleviate homelessness in Venice and beyond joins the effort from a human-centered, social justice framework.

Grass Roots Neighbors
Idle No More Venice
LA Tenant Union, Westside Chapter
Safe Place for Youth
Venice Black, Indigenous and People of Color Elders
Venice Catholic Worker
Venice Community Housing
Venice Equity Alliance
Venice Family Clinic
Venice Justice Committee