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LETTERS -- Santa Monica Homeless Service Agency Responds to Information Presented to Council

Editor's note: The article addressed in the following letter was based on public input for an item on the May 8 City Council agenda.

May 17, 2018

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the article “Increased Call for “Accountability” of City-Funded Shelter and Services for Homeless” by Niki Cervantes published on May 9, 2018.

Our mission as an agency, for over 50 years, has been rooted in helping our community’s most vulnerable neighbors to rebuild their lives -- housed, healthy and safe. As service providers we
are committed to the wellbeing of our program participants.

We are held accountable by multiple outside regulatory agencies, our clients, and the public. It’s very unfortunate that anyone would distort or misrepresent information in an attempt to mislead the public.

The article stated that “the Friends of Sunset Park said OPCC has racked up a long list of violations. . . after being observed by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) in 2017.”

We promptly responded to these findings. In a letter from LAHSA to The People Concern dated February 12, 2018 regarding the 2017 LAHSA report, it states that “all findings and concerns have been cleared.”

The article also stated that “the California Department of Health Services in May of 2017 also said Turning Point -- one of OPCC’s operations -- was advertising and presenting itself as an
“alcoholism and drug abuse, recovery and treatment center” without a license.”

We did receive this letter. The letter did not concern the actual services we provide, but verbiage in two sentences on our website regarding our elective Wellness program made available to our clients for their general wellbeing -- specifically the words “manage” and “assist” paired with the words “substance abuse.”

A representative inferred from this that we were advertising an
inpatient residential substance abuse treatment program for which we would need a license.

That type of programming is not what we do, nor have we ever advertised ourselves as a residential treatment facility. While we did not feel our description conveyed otherwise, upon receiving that letter we immediately changed the language on our website per their direction.

Our organization was founded on the philosophy of neighbors helping neighbors. It is because of our values and best practices that the City of Santa Monica and its residents have entrusted The People Concern with the responsibility of ensuring that our community’s most vulnerable neighbors are housed, healthy and safe.

We will continue our commitment to the community to provide the highest level of service, care, and support to those in need, and to continue striving for a day when homelessness and domestic violence are things of the past.

John Maceri
Executive Director
The People Concern

 


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