November 30, 2020 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

VA Homelessness Update

From the Brentwood Community Council (BCC)

On October 28, the BCC Homelessness Task Force hosted it’s 5th public homelessness task force meeting via zoom, including the Department of Mental Health, Los Angeles Sheriff, LAPD, County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s staff and local VA homeless service provider, Village for Vets.

Primary take aways include:

1. VA BEDS – More than 60 beds were available at the VA for homeless Veterans on the date of the meeting; additional beds were available at the CalVets Hospital, but their complete count was not available. In sum: there is a bed available for homeless San Vicente encampment Veterans in several different VA programs on any given day. The new VA “safe camping” program currently has excess capacity, tents can be moved from the San Vicente sidewalk into the VA program or the VA will provide an 8 x 10 ‘walk-in’ tent. Veterans may bring their non-Veteran significant others into the safe camping area.

2. TENTS ON SIDEWALK – Limits on homeless tents on City sidewalks are being discussed as part of a City Motion being heard on Nov 24 which seeks to limit sidewalk camping – see full Council Motion at this link. Councilman Bonin opposes this Motion and has entered an amendment. As a reminder, the City of Thousand Oaks passed a law that complies with the Federal Court “Boise” decision on homeless camping – e.g. anyone can sleep in a specific City designated public location from 10PM – 6AM every day; no tents open during the day.

3. MENTAL HEALTH – The meeting highlighted what the BCC Homelessness Task Force has known for some time – the Department of Mental Health has not been working in direct coordination with West LAPD. Under the current County outreach plan, DMH must first be called by our local homeless service outreach team, led by St. Joseph Center in Venice (which received a $9M Dept of Public Health grant to deliver homeless services this year to all of CD11, Bel Air and other areas in County Service Area 5 – see map here). To date in 2020, the St. Joseph Center outreach team made a total of 14 referals to DMH – less than 2 per month – for Brentwood/West LA, yet West LAPD could easily use far more support. LAPD and DMH are now communicating directly. We are still advocating for West LAPD to be included in the bi weekly homeless services meetings that take place with DPH, DMH, St. Joseph Center and other providers. 

4. SIDEWALK CLEAN UPS – Garbage continues to be collected by the sanitation department near Brentwood encampments, but full scale sanitizing of sidewalks was halted by Covid safety rules. As a reminder, the difference is that sidewalk sanitizing requires advance notice to move tents, power washing of sidewalks, providing mental health and intensive outreach assistance on the day of the clean up. It is likely the Sheriff will resume sanitation clean ups very soon on County sidewalk next to the VA. After renewed clean ups take place, Federal ADA clearance requirements of 36″ will likely be enforced, again, so the public can easily use community sidewalks. No date was provided for renewed power washing clean ups of City sidewalks. 

5. HOMELESS LITIGATION – Nothing has changed which directly impacts Brentwood in the current Federal litigation (LA Alliance v City/County of LA). There is an order pending from the Judge related to moving people from under freeways and a full update can be found on the Plaintiff’s website here.

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