|Santa Monica Offers Services to the Homeless Via New Website
By Melonie Magruder
October 4, 2011 -- Even in uncertain economic times, the city of Santa Monica looks for innovative ways to support and help the homeless. The latest resource for people – whether chronically homeless, recently evicted or just down on their luck – lies just a keystroke away.
The city has launched a new website, www.smgov.net/homelessness, which gives comprehensive information on city services, local partners and regional and national resources for those most vulnerable.
Natasha Guest, administrative analyst for the city, said that their comprehensive approach pairs nonprofit agencies, housing providers, government partners and representatives from the business and faith communities to promote fair distribution of resources that can directly provide for the city’s homeless population.
Los Angeles County counted more than 51,000 homeless people this year, a number slightly down from 2009. The downward trend is reflected in Santa Monica’s homeless population as well and is a result, Guest said, of federal stimulus dollars working to help the neediest.
While homeless populations fluctuate for many reasons, Santa Monica had a relatively modest number of only 740 (based on a one day window count) earlier this year.
“The city had federal grants of over half a million dollars this year to help people keep from being evicted because of loss of jobs or other calamity,” Guest told the Lookout Monday. “That really helped keep our numbers of homeless down this year. But the stimulus money is running out, so we’re not sure how it will look next year.”
Guest said that one reason for the relatively low homeless population is because of a strong network of providers and an aggressive approach to securing grant funding, allowing the city to offer more to homeless people than they might realize.
“Our website can be accessed by anyone and our city libraries have a fantastic computer system available to anyone,” Guest said.
The website also allows residents interested in helping the homeless find ways to volunteer time or offer donations. For example, community gardens with an over-abundance of harvest can match up with shelters that need food provisions.
“We’ve seen a reduction in our homeless numbers since 2007,” Guest said. “We’d like to continue that trend. Hopefully, our new website will help us achieve that.”
For more information on homeless services, contact www.smgov.net/homelessness or call (310) 458-8701.
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