By Olin Ericksen
November 20 -- From getting homeless individuals off
local streets and adding another preferential parking zone to
leasing out vacant Civic Center land for events, the City Council
wrapped up a slew of agenda items last week.
In addition to approving $350,000 in federal funds for local
homeless service providers, the council voted last Tuesday to
transfer $1.34 million used for low and moderate-income affordable
housing loans to help move homeless seniors into supportive permanent
Earmarked for the “Senior Homeless Prevention and Rental
Assistance Program,” the money will not only help keep the
elderly off the streets, but a significant amount will help house
those seniors living outside of society the longest, dubbed the
“Rental assistance would be provided to very-low income
homeless seniors, 55-years old and older, who have participated,
for a minimum of one year, in a case management program,”
according to the staff report.
“This population is being proposed because it is generally
the most vulnerable of the homeless population in the areas of
personal safety and disease,” the report said.
The “chronic homeless” are the largest, and most expensive,
drain on City and area emergency systems, including police, paramedics
and hospitals, City officials have said.
The move also bolsters a $1 million Federal grant for a new approach
in helping the homeless in Santa Monica, a service model known
in policy circles as “Housing First.”
Local service providers, City and housing officials envision
a five to six year programs with the long-term goal of carving
out additional public funding, the staff report said.
With senior housing in short supply, such a program is urgently
needed, many service providers said.
“Legal Aid, OPCC and St. Joseph Center reported an increasing
number of Santa Monica seniors who are either being evicted from
or moving from their apartments because of a financial crisis
in their lives, predominantly related to medical expenses,”
“In addition, the 2000 Census documents that there are
1,932 Santa Monica residents, age 55 years old and older, who
have incomes at, or below, the poverty line. They constitute the
largest pool of Santa Monica residents who may require prevention
As of June 30, 55 percent or 246 homeless individuals 55 years
or older tracked by the City received homeless services for between
one and five years, the report stated. Of those, 53 were veterans
and 137 were chronically homeless.
All the individuals showed signs of “disabling conditions,”
including 105 who were suffering from mental illness, 50 struggling
with alcoholism, 45 suffering from drug abuse and 46 who had a
When it came to parking, City Council members last Tuesday went
against a staff recommendation and approved preferential parking
in the 1100 block of Alta Avenue, next to the busy Montana Avenue
Businesses in the area had argued that restricting parking to
residents made it difficult for customers and employees to find
parking, an argument the council didn’t buy.
Preferential parking will now be available on the south side
of Alta Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets, restricting parking
to two hours, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, except
The original petition to consider residential permits came with
a plan that would designate permits for employees of businesses
in the Montana area, but the council decided to halt the program
Staff recommended denying the petition because parking spaces
are spread evenly across the area north of Montana Avenue and
are not “unduly high” on Alta Avenue. Staff also noted
that a “majority of the residents in the neighborhood have
stated… they do not want additional” preferred parking
in the neighborhood.
The council last week also gave the go-ahead to lease empty land
in the Civic Center for short-term cultural events. Leasing the
site won’t come cheap, though.
A minimum payment of a half million dollars is required. They
money would be used to develop park space at the four acre site
the City bought from RAND.
Bids will be received from July to November 2007.