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Plan Would Give Chronically Homeless Women a Room with a View

By Lookout Staff

July 26 -- Seventeen homeless women who have survived on the street the longest could be in line for affordable oceanfront units under a City program to house those who are the greatest drain on municipal services.

The plan -- which the City Council removed from the consent calendar Tuesday night, scheduling it for a later date -- would house the women in seven vacant apartment units at 1614-1616 Ocean Avenue.

Other chronically homeless women would move in as an additional seven units are vacated, according to City officials.

The building would continue to serve as a drop-in center for Daybreak Shelter, which serves mentally ill homeless women, City officials said.

Santa Monica officials hope a total of 17 units will eventually be earmarked for the homeless under a program run by a non-profit agency that has yet to be named.

“There is an urgent need for permanent housing for chronically homeless women,” stated the staff report. “It is estimated that on any given day there are between 100 and 300 chronically homeless women on the streets of Santa Monica.

“Providing seventeen units of permanent affordable housing, in conjunction with supportive services, would begin to address their need for permanent affordable housing.”

Without any discussion, the council tabled the item, which would have authorized staff to begin searching for the non-profit that will provide services to the homeless women who will live on site.

The item would also have cleared the way for a loan of up to $700,000 in rehabilitation work to be done on site.

But it remains to be seen whether the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will allow Santa Monica officials to exclude men from the proposed housing.

“Staff believes a targeted program would optimize the housing and social service resources in the site,” the staff report said.

The move is part of an ongoing strategy to provide supportive housing to those on the street the longest and help them battle addiction, mental illness or both. Last year, Santa Monica received a $1 million grant to move forward with the strategy -- known as Housing First.

Much of that money will be used to pay rent for nearly 70 homeless individuals, who will receive extensive support from social service agencies.

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