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Council Reviews Santa Monica's Homeless Services  

By Michael Aushenker
Special to The Lookout

January 14, 2011 -- Santa Monica’s homeless services were on the agenda when the City Council reviewed and adopted the city’s action plan Tuesday.

Setareh Yavari, city homeless services administrator, reported on the plan's evolution and progress, calling it a “living document” that “guides local policy.”

Santa Monica's homeless population has dropped 25 percent since 2007, report figures show.

Among other programs, the city spent $200,000 to prevent 162 residents from living on the streets or in their cars. That's just over $1,200 a person, far below the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year Councilmember Shriver said untreated homeless individuals cost the government.

Yavari warned that “the challenges of the economy” will make things tougher for homeless service providers in the near future.

And John Maceri, Executive Director of OPCC, warned the council that the governor's budget might slash services further if the city's redevelopment agencies are eliminated.

The city currently counts on redevelopment agency funds to pay for affordable housing as well as many of its services for the homeless.

“Any (long-term) solution to homelessness has got to include development of affordable housing,” Maceri said.

Local service providers had more to add.

“Homelessness is truly a regional issue,” David Snow, executive director of Upward Bound, reminded the council.

His facilities house homeless families, including 17 in the past two years whose last permanent addresses were in Santa Monica.

“Family homelessness has also been known as the ‘hidden homeless’ with parents shielding their children as much as they can,” he told the council and asked them to make his clientele the city's first priority.

Identifying families on the brink of homelessness and working with the school district are two ways that the city can address Snow's concerns, Yavari said.

“Santa Monica is a city with a heart,” Mark Loranger, president of Chrysalis, a service that helps homeless people get jobs, told the council.

Thanks to the myriad programs the city supports, he said, his clients have a shot at a better life.

Loranger drew a picture of a “composite client” for the council, one who might be referred to his program from a drug dependency program like the Clare Foundation, then moved into temporary housing at OPCC or Upward Bound while he got settled into a job at Vons. He then could earn enough money to move into a subsidized apartment.

“It's this network of service providers...that makes this whole system work,” Loranger said.

Citing data as the “backbone” of the city's successes, Yavari urged citizens to volunteer for the upcoming 2011 Homeless Count. Volunteers will meet at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium at 11p.m. on Wednesday, January 26. They will receive training, team assignments and will deploy from the Civic and spread throughout the City to conduct the count. To volunteer, please RSVP by completing this survey or call (310) 458-8701.

 

“Any (long-term) solution to homelessness has got to include development of affordable housing.” John Maceri

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