Welcome to the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH) Newsetter
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July 2019 Newsletter
In this issue:
Past Newsletters
Videos of Past Community Meetings
 
President’s Message
 
I’m sure we are all deeply concerned about the fact that the recently released 2019 Homeless Count numbers showed an increase of 16% for LA City.  While the Palisades has worked hard to reduce the number of homeless individuals on the streets we’ve consistently avoided pushing the problem to our neighboring communities.  In fact we have actively collaborated with Santa Monica, Malibu and Brentwood for several years.  Each community has a different perspective on how to solve the problem and we know our model doesn’t fit every community.  Still, I think we can all agree that one of the key issues for the City is the lack of housing.  Developing housing is a complex and controversial topic.  We look forward to discussions that bring us closer to solutions as a community.
 
Those of you who joined us for our Community Meeting on May 20 know how eloquently Elyn Saks spoke about the many issues relating to mental illness.  Not the least of these was the issue of legislation relating to the “gravely disabled.”  We are grateful for her insights.  Portions of her talk are on our YouTube channel:  (see youtube.com/channel/UCgjebdWgnFhNXQKG6Wqqs8w/videos ... or you can click on the YouTube icon on the footer of our website pptfh.org).  You might consider subscribing to our channel and you’ll receive an email when we post videos of our meetings.  And we think our July 22 meeting entitled “An Initiative to Eradicate Homelessness” will be as thought-provoking on the topic of housing. Please join us. 
 
We’ve also noted that Governor Newsom has recently launched a "Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force" co-chaired by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg & LA City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas.  See www.gov.ca.gov/2019/05/21/in-oakland-governor-gavin-newsom-announces-the-formation-of-the-homeless-and-supportive-housing-advisory-task-force/ .  We look forward to hearing how the state will be addressing these issues.
 
Doug McCormick
President, PPTFH
Outreach Update
Outreach Team Progress, January 2016 – May 2019
 
In our last newsletter we introduced the newly formatted Outreach Team Progress chart (above) which tracks data provided by The People Concern (our PPTFH service provider partner).  The data reflects the cumulative number of individuals PPTFH has helped move off of the streets into shelter or permanent housing, those who are on the street receiving services (e.g. counseling) and the total number of individuals offered services.
 
In this newsletter we introduce an additional chart (below) which shows PPTFH’s cumulative progress according to the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority’s (LAHSA) annual count.  We use the data in both charts to corroborate, compare, contrast and better understand our outreach results.
 

The two charts tell us that since January 2016, PPTFH’s efforts have been successful in helping individuals receive services and move into some form of housing.  The number of individuals and tents and makeshift shelters has gone down by 58% according to the LAHSA annual analysis and the number of individuals moving into housing has gone up according to The People Concern’s cumulative monthly analysis. 
 
The LAHSA chart also tells us that the percentage of vehicles and RV’s (mostly along PCH) has increased significantly (200%).  The Outreach Progress chart indicates that the rate we are moving people into housing has slowed considerably and that we are working with more people who remain on the street.  The collective data makes sense given the dramatic increase in homeless individuals throughout the greater Los Angeles area.  The supply of housing for homeless individuals (temporary shelter and permanent supportive housing) is inadequate to meet the tremendous need.
 
PPTFH is considering the implications of this data for our work going forward.  How can we engage vehicle dwellers more effectively?  What do we do about housing?

Sharon Browning
PPTFH Vice President
Chair, Outreach Oversight Committee
Schizophrenia and Homelessness
Elyn Saks, Guest Speaker

On the evening of May 20th, the sleepy Palisades Public Library had a chattering line of people stretched out the door and down the sidewalk, waiting to attend the PPTFH Community Meeting.  The guest speaker was Elyn R. Saks, “a rock star” according to Hollywood casting director and PPTFH committee member, Nancy Klopper.  That is, if said rock star had a menu of academic degrees, a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, a best-selling book, her own research institute, and chronic schizophrenia.
 
Dr. Saks is a celebrated and renowned expert in the field of mental health. Chair Professor of Law, Psychology, Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at USC, Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD Medical School, and Director of the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics, she is at the forefront of policy and research and an engaging speaker with her own TED talk.  Before publishing her memoir, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, most of her colleagues were unaware that she has lived with schizophrenia since she was a teenager, is in psychotherapy nearly every day, and on antipsychotic medication.
 
Dr. Saks spoke “to give hope to those who have schizophrenia and understanding to those who don’t,” and to address how mental illness pertains to homelessness.  She recounted her experience of living with schizophrenia and the harrowing periods of psychosis, when her illness became a “waking nightmare” so severe she couldn’t leave her room or care for herself.
 
Her accounts make clear why people who are severely mentally ill and homeless lack the capacity to leave the streets.  She cited the statistic that 1 in 3 homeless people struggle with severe mental illness.  Calling for legislative action, she suggested making changes to the LPS (Lanterman-Petris-Short) Act and its definition of gravely disabled.
 
Dr. Saks wants to humanize and change the way people with mental illness are perceived and treated: “We need to improve how we interact and engage with the person to give them better care.”  She spoke about her own hospitalization and the terrorizing and inhuman experience of being under mechanical restraints for days and weeks on end, and how “…by ‘othering’ people (viewing them as other or different from “me”) we allow ourselves to do things to them that we wouldn’t want done to ourselves or our loved ones.”  The use of restraints is humiliating and traumatic, and a deterrent to effective treatment, causing those with mental illness to avoid hospitals and treatment at all costs.  “We need to study ways to get people to want treatment…a much better course than to just use more force,” added Dr. Saks, whose own study is already in the works. 
 
However, when it comes to medication, involuntary treatment is often necessary.  Dr. Saks opined that, in the case of a mentally ill homeless person who doesn’t understand their condition, they “should absolutely be forced to take medication” coupled with psychosocial therapy.
 
Dr. Saks concluded that the work is ongoing.  “We have to keep plugging and keep trying; introducing legislation and tweaking it….What I am most hopeful for is for the law to allow us to treat our loved ones who can’t care for themselves.”
 
Heather Keller
Communications Committee
 
LAPD Beach Patrol Adds Additional Resources
(L-R) Training officer Antolin Gutierrez, officer Jimmy Soliman, officer Earl Wright, officer John "Rusty" Redican
PPTFH Law Enforcement Coordination Committee requested two additional full-time Beach Patrol officers to help our committee patrol our beaches and bluffs.  Captain Victor Davalos, Commanding Officer at WLA police station, has accommodated us with one additional officer.   Also, rotating training officers have been added to work with our 3 full-time officers.     
 
We are pleased to have Officers Rusty Redican, Jimmy Soliman, and now our new police officer, Earl Wright, on the LAPD Beach Patrol. Officer Wright has been stationed at the West Los Angeles police station for 8 years. He is very familiar with the Palisades and is a great addition to the team.  We welcome Officer Wright and look forward to working with him.  We are hopeful resources to support a fourth LAPD Beach Patrol officer will become available in the near future. 
 
The Beach Patrol officers work directly with the PPTFH Law Enforcement Coordination Committee volunteers and The People Concern outreach team, engaging our homeless population and directing them to services.
 
Keeping our beaches and bluffs safe is a major concern.  Currently, there are 5 summer day camps situated in the Will Rogers beaches.  While LAPD prioritizes the safety of all the campers, they are also responsible for monitoring the hillsides for new encampments in the posted “Restricted Entry High Fire Zones”.  PPTFH spent 2 years cleaning up hundreds of homeless encampments and LAPD helps in enforcing a zero tolerance for camping in these areas.  The LAPD Beach Patrol has found several folks in our bluffs and has guided them directly to our outreach team to connect them to services, and, ultimately, housing.  
 
Sharon Kilbride
Chair, Law Enforcement Coordination Committee
PPTFH Receives $50K from St. John's Health Center Foundation
Providence Saint John’s Health Center sees the link between illness and homelessness.  The hospital has collaborated with The People Concern in Santa Monica in developing the Community Care Navigator Program at the hospital to develop a better quality of care for homeless patients who are discharged from the Emergency Department (ED).  Physicians, such as Dr. Sabrina Diaz, deplore the conditions these people return to and the “bounce back” to ED that occurs due to the lack of a secure environment.  The goal is to shrink the homeless crisis and the myriad of health threats that come with it. This is what has driven Charles Smith, Saint John’s Health Center Foundation’s (SJHCF) Community Impact Fund (CIF) Trustee, to champion the financial commitment to Pacific Palisades Task force on Homelessness (PPTFH).  This January PPTFH received $50,000 from SJHCF-CIF– its fourth grant in as many years.  The CIF has helped PPTFH gain credibility early on in 2016, thus encouraging other donors.  As one of our five Funding Partners, the CIF grants help sustain our efforts today.

The initial CIF grant facilitated the PPTFH project model, engaging a full-time professional outreach team from The People Concern.  This use of professional, plus volunteer, involvement in making contact with our homeless population has made significant progress in securing permanent placement possible.  The community education that PPTFH has sponsored has created more understanding of the need for real solutions within the minds and hearts of Palisades residents.

Justin Joe, director of Community Health Partnerships at Providence Health & Services, stressed that it is important for the hospital to coordinate with local residents as well as local services.  As he remarked, “No single organization can do this alone.  There are hospital roles and community roles.”

Pat Lorne
Fundraising Committee
Launch of Housing to Home Project
(L-R) Alex Gittinger (The People Concern), Nick Raddon (Eagle Scout), Kayce Mammen (LDS Church), Kim Clary (PPTFH)
Nick Raddon
Imagine moving into an empty apartment with no furniture, towels, sheets, dishes or cleaning supplies, and no money to buy them with. The PPTFH, through the outreach team from The People Concern, has been successful in placing 71 of our (previously) homeless neighbors into permanent housing.  They are grateful to be off the streets and have a roof over their heads. However, they move into housing with very little, if any, items with which to set up housekeeping.
 
Kayce Mammen of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) decided to tackle this problem.  With support from Bishop Chris Eastland, Kayce set up a committee with members from Corpus Christi Catholic Church, St. Matthews Episcopal Church, The People Concern and PPTFH.  A donation request was created on Amazon by Jocelyn Cortese of St. Matthews.  It was decided to use a shipping container to store the supplies in the LDS parking lot.  Nicholas Raddon, for his Eagle Scout project, found a container to buy.  He and his father, Rich, set up a donation page on Facebook and received the funds for the container within a matter of days! 
 
On June 2, the project launched at the LDS Church on Los Liones Dr.  Our community donated generously.  The long tables were filled with household items; dishes, linens, pots and pans, crockpot’s, vacuum cleaners and cleaning supplies to name a few.  The People Concern outreach workers are now able help clients set up housekeeping when they leave the streets.  This will ensure they will be comfortable in their new home and successful in their placement.
 
As the supplies need to be replaced, another donation request will be sent out to the community. Please stay tuned!
 
Kim Clary
Chair, PPTFH Volunteer Committee
Website Update and New Manager
Shannon Duffy, Website Manager
PPTFH welcomes Shannon Duffy as its Website Technical Manager and celebrates that because of her work, our website is “finally” accurate and updated!
 
Shannon brings extensive technical and creative skill to the manager position. Professionally, she is skilled in multiple backend platforms both for e-commerce and informational sites, designs book covers (over 700 so far), is a published author, and has extensive experience in marketing, content creation and public relations.  Personally, she is the mom of two boys, a dog and three cats.  We can attest from working with Shannon that one of her best skills is her “kind, extreme patience with technically challenged volunteers.”
 
The PPTFH website is intended and designed to be a simple, straightforward information tool that provides the visitor with the following:  information about PPTFH’s mission, service model, organizational structure and leadership, progress updates, bi-monthly community information and discussion meetings, contribution/volunteer opportunities, policies and who to contact for assistance.
 
The site focuses on PPTFH’s efforts to serve the Palisades community, our people who are experiencing homelessness and connecting with the community and interested visitors.  It is not a social media or “general homelessness current event, information or opinion site.”  We do not have the volunteer capacity to serve as a general information or networking site.  Instead, we believe it’s important to maintain a focus on the work occurring in the Palisades. (However, our bi-monthly community information meetings are great opportunities to learn about and discuss the key issues and approaches involved with addressing homelessness.)
 
Please visit our website (pptfh.org) and refer others who may be interested. We hope that you will find it an easy, straightforward experience and that it provides the information you need.  We welcome your feedback and questions about the site or other topics.    
 
Sharon Browning
Communications Co-Chair
WLA-Sawtelle Neighborhood Forum on Homelessness
Panel with Sharon Kilbride
On May 21, 2019, the WLA-Sawtelle Neighborhood Council presented a community meeting on homeless resources for the neighborhood.  The panel consisted of:
Susan Klos- Mar Vista Community Council
James Lavenson- LAPD WLA Community Liaison Officer
Vic Davalos- LAPD-WLA Captain
Matt Wersinger-Del Rey Neighborhood Council
Sharon Kilbride-Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness
Veronica De La Cruz-Robles- Neighborhood prosecutor WLA
Krista Kline-Deputy Chief of staff
Mike Bonin-City Councilman
Stephanie Cohen-District Director West/Metro LA Office of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
Joshua Hall-Assoc. Director of CES at LAHSA
Achee Stevenson-Director of Client Engagement, St. Josephs Center
 
The meeting was well attended and the panel offered some ideas about how to address the growing numbers of homeless people living on the streets of the WLA- Sawtelle Neighborhoods.  Useful information was shared, and pamphlets on available services for individuals experiencing homelessness were distributed.
 
PPTFH shared its success model with the group and discussed ways to implement a task force on homelessness in other communities. 
 
The overarching message conveyed by the panel was that the City of Los Angeles at this time does not have sufficient shelter beds and housing to accommodate all of the homeless individuals living on the streets.  After the meeting, the panel met individually with members of the community and answered their questions on a case by case basis.
 
Sharon Kilbride
Chair, Law Enforcement Coordination Committee
Community Meeting July 22

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President: Doug McCormick; Vice-President: Sharon Browning; Treasurer/Secretary: David Morena

Our email address is:
pacpalihtf@gmail.com

To reach the Outreach Team of Glanda & Maureen email:
palisadesoutreach@thepeopleconcern.org

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Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness · PO Box 331 · Pacific Palisades, CA 90272 · USA

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