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Santa Monica Council Supports Homeless Shelter for College Students  

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By Jonathan Friedman

February 16, 2017 -- The Bruin Shelter at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church on Ocean Park Boulevard, which houses homeless students attending Santa Monica College and UCLA, received a financial boost from the City Council on Tuesday.

Council members voted unanimously to give $10,000 to the student-run shelter to go toward permitting fees and general operation costs.

“This is designed to encourage our partners to give [matching contributions], but obviously also we support the idea of bringing homeless students into a shelter situation,” Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis said.

The shelter opened in October and recently graduated its first senior student.

“We provided a safe place for him to finish his education and go on to his occupation,” the Rev. Eric C. Shafer from Mt. Olive told the council.

Shafer called the shelter “a great success” that has “zero impact on the community” with unanimous support from the neighbors and the church’s congregation.

“It actually has been a positive thing in our neighborhood because we are putting people in that building all night that are actually going around the property and checking the property" during late night and early morning hours, Shafer said.

“So it’s more secure in our neighborhood than it was before the shelter was there.”

Santa Monica's homeless population has been dwindling since the City Council initiated a crackdown in the mid 1990s that included curbing panhandling and banning camping overnight in public spaces.

The City's first homeless count, conducted in 2009, found of 915 individuals living on its streets, in shelters and in institutions.

That number dropped to 728 last year, but the number of individuals living on the streets increased slightly from 402 in 2015 to 416 ("Santa Monica's Homeless Population Declines," March 2, 2016).

There was a sharp increase in homeless people living along the beach -- from just five people in 2015 to 48 individuals in 2016 -- the highest since 2009. No minors or families were counted there.

The City conducted its 2017 homeless count last month.

For more information on the Bruin Shelter program, visit

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