The City of Santa Monica Human Services Division (HSD) announced an 8% reduction in the city’s homeless population, based on its recent count of the city’s homeless. Using a new, rigorous methodology that involves physically counting homeless individuals in every census tract of the city, HSD is demonstrating the early success of Santa Monica’s Action Plan to Address Homelessness, and paving the way for accurate evaluation of progress in the future. The Count tallied 915 homeless individuals living within the City’s borders.
“We are pleased, but not surprised, to see a decline in street homelessness,” said Julie Rusk, Santa Monica Human Services Manager. “The City has been working hard for a long time to develop a compassionate and effective plan to address the issues of homelessness in our community. Considering the current state of the economy, this reduction is an indication of the success of our efforts.”
In 2008, the Santa Monica City Council adopted an Action Plan to Address Homelessness. The 2009 Count was designed to gauge the initial progress of the Plan. The Plan, which focuses City services and resources on the most vulnerable populations, aims to end the impact of homelessness in Santa Monica by engaging homeless individuals in services, assisting them to become stable and moving them off of the streets and into appropriate housing.
Today’s announcement bodes well for the City’s new approach. However, there is no denying that “street homelessness remains a major issue in certain areas throughout the city,” according to Santa Monica Police Captain Al Venegas. “But, thanks to the success of City programs like the Homeless Liaison Program (HELP), law enforcement and service providers have begun to work together with the City to help people find ways off the streets.”
The Homeless Liaison Program, a partnership between law enforcement and homeless service providers, is just one example of the City’s new homeless initiatives. The City’s chronic homeless service registry program identifies the city’s most vulnerable individuals, helping service providers to prioritize treatment and find appropriate housing solutions. Santa Monica’s Homeless Community Court provides individuals a second chance to get back on their feet; Project Homecoming reunites homeless individuals with friends and family members who can offer safe and stable housing options.
“The City, in collaboration with service providers, businesses and residents, has shown a continued commitment to finding compassionate and effective solutions to end homelessness in Santa Monica,” stated John Maceri, Executive Director of OPCC. Maceri credited the comprehensive Action Plan for today’s good news. “Fewer homeless individuals on the streets means we are on the right track.”
Santa Monica’s Homeless Count, which was conducted in conjunction with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s Homeless Count (www.lahsa.org), covered more than 226 linear miles, including all 19 of the city’s census tract areas. This year’s Count utilized a new, more thorough methodology to ensure that each area within the City’s limits was properly surveyed. City staff is confident that the 2009 Count findings paint an accurate picture of the city’s homeless population.
Bryan Adams, a community volunteer who participated in the 2009 Homeless Count, was also impressed with the City’s dedication to helping the homeless. “I was proud to have participated in the Count, and I’m proud to see Santa Monica take a leadership role on the issue. As a resident, I understand the concerns of other residents and homeowners and I’m happy to know that something is being done to improve things. I’m also happy to know that the City is taking a humane approach, an approach that I think reflects the good will of the people who live here.” The 2009 Homeless Count was conducted by more than 250 volunteers between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. on January 27, 2009.
The City of Santa Monica Human Services Division (HSD) provides and supports social service, recreation, education and community programs addressing the needs of infants, children, teens, families, people with disabilities, seniors, victims of domestic violence and low-income individuals, including those who are homeless. The division is part of the City's Community & Cultural Services Department.
The vision for the City’s Action Plan to Address Homelessness is to transform Santa Monica to a place where our effective action and compassion end the impact of homelessness on our community. Through collaboration and cooperation, the City of Santa Monica, non-profit agencies, housing providers, governmental partners, business and faith communities will focus on intensively serving the most vulnerable and chronically homeless people, who have been homeless in Santa Monica for many years, so that they obtain and sustain housing. We will work with our neighboring communities and partners to form collaborations that address the regional nature of homelessness and promote the development of housing and services throughout Los Angeles County.
For more information contact Danielle Noble at (310) 458-870, or visit the City of Santa Monica's website to learn more of the City of Santa Monica Human Services Division efforts to address homelessness.
To read the Los Angeles Times Article on the City of Santa Monica’s efforts visit the Los Angeles Times website.