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City Makes Gains on Homeless Front

By Jonathan Friedman
Staff Writer

November 6, 2009 -- Nearly 3,000 people received assistance from seven City-funded homeless agencies between July 2008 and June 2009, according to a City staff report. The City Council will review this report at its meeting on Tuesday as part of its Annual Review of the City’s Plan for Homeless Services.

Of those who received assistance, 25 percent were formerly homeless individuals living in permanent housing. Another 14 percent were placed in permanent housing after receiving help.

Twenty percent acquired “emergency or transitional” housing. And 17 percent found and maintained jobs, “leading to self-sufficiency.”

The City provided nearly $3 million to these homeless agencies during the past year. The money came from the City’s General Fund and through federal and county programs. The agencies raised another $5.46 million.

The City Council in 2008 adopted the “Action Plan to Address Homelessness in Santa Monica,” which created a strategy for tackling homelessness through various “project areas.” The plan was updated in 2009.

According to the staff report, several accomplishments were achieved on the Action Plan in the past year. These accomplishments include bringing more people out of homelessness through various methods, the development of housing opportunities for the chronically homeless, increased education for the community on the issues and improved regional collaboration with other local governments and organizations.

While gains are being made, the City staff report notes “homelessness remains a top community concern in Santa Monica, impacting first responders such as police and paramedics and the criminal justice system.”

According to the report, there were more than 1,700 arrests of transients in the past year. The City Attorney’s Office filed nearly 2,500 cases involving arrests and citations “in which the subjects involved are usually homeless persons.” These include violations such as illegal camping, abusive panhandling, public urination and sleeping in doorways.

Also, 10 percent of the Santa Monica Fire Department’s more than 11,500 paramedic calls were to people who were “clearly homeless.” However, that number is down 24 percent from the previous year.




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