Welcome to the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH) Newsetter
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    March 2018

         Newsletter

In this issue:
  • President’s Message
  • Outreach Team Progress Report
  • Mentally Ill Homeless People Who Refuse Help: What to Do?
  • Homeless Count 2018: Mostly Good News
  • Enforcement Coordination Update
  • Fundraising Celebrations
  • Community Meeting March 19
Past Newsletters
President’s Message
 
What does collaboration mean and how should it be done? We find ourselves being asked more and more how our work with the homeless in the Palisades is so successful. By our third year of effort, we have found temporary or permanent housing for over 70% of the homeless individuals who will work with us.
 
Individuals and Neighborhood Councils around Los Angeles County are asking us if they can “clone” what we’re doing. We’re happy to share our experience, but we’re fairly certain that the work has to be organic to each community. 
 
In our collaboration effort, we have been blessed with two amazing outreach workers from The People Concern, which also provides comprehensive services beyond outreach. We have been blessed with the amazing work of LAPD officers who have no problem biking up into the bluffs or along the beaches. We have been blessed with the astonishingly committed work of residents who are “force multipliers” for the outreach workers and police. They identify (and help locate via Google Maps) homeless individuals who have just arrived or returned to the Palisades.
 
We have no false expectations that we will eliminate homelessness in the Palisades.  But our work now is focusing on the remaining 30% in our community who refuse or are reluctant to accept services. Our January 29 community meeting addressed this topic (see the article below), and many of us came away with hope of progress on this front. Our March 19 community meeting will address the topic of “enablers” and their role in either helping or hindering the acceptance of services.
 
If you haven’t already, come join our effort.  And let us know if you’re aware of other communities who would like to collaborate with us to think through solutions to this very complex problem.
 
Doug McCormick
President, PPTFH
 
The January 2018 data in the chart above show that, starting in 2017, we continue to help homeless individuals get off the streets at about the same rate as they are coming into our community. Thus, we are not currently reducing the number of resident homeless people in our community, but we are holding relatively steady in our ability to address their numbers and housing needs. Our Enforcement Coordination Committee reports that there are currently no known occupied encampments on our hillsides or brushy parklands. This tells us we are successfully meeting fire-safety goals for our homeless individuals and the community.
 
In our last newsletter we indicated that we are now focusing on 15–18 residents on our Priority List who are more challenging to place. Accomplishments this month include securing an apartment for a chronically homeless veteran who was on the list for some time and a family who successfully secured housing and employment. Another person on the list completed one year in permanent housing, along with her child, who was born after our outreach team helped her off of the streets. We also celebrate that out of the 42 individuals who are now successfully in permanent housing, 13 are unsubsidized!

Sharon Browning
PPTFH Vice President
Chair, Outreach Oversight Committee
 
L: Brittney Weissman, Executive Director, NAMI LA;
R: Dr. Emily DeFraites. Veterans Health Administration
Mentally Ill Homeless People Who Refuse Help:  What to Do?
 
In our third year, PPTFH faces the hard fact that six of the homeless individuals on our Palisades streets have remained here for over a year. Our outreach professionals and volunteers worry that they are in failing health. Yet they refuse our offers of help. At our community meeting January 29, we sought the advice of two experienced professionals.
 
Dr. Emily DeFraites, a psychiatrist at the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration, and Brittney Weissman, Executive Director of the National Alliance for Mental Illness, Los Angeles County Council (NAMI LA), offered guidance on how to help our most troubled homeless residents.
 
DeFraites explained that it takes time for a psychiatrist to diagnose and treat a new patient. With medication, many can be started on the path to accepting services and eventually permanent care and shelter. But efforts are hampered when the person refuses medication and there’s too little time to develop an individual treatment plan.
 
In an emergency, when an individual is a danger to himself or others (such as wandering on PCH or threatening people with a weapon), police have ordered an ambulance to take the person to an Emergency Room. But the law requires formidable evidence to hold someone involuntarily in a hospital beyond 72 hours (called a “5150 Hold”). So far, our mentally ill people have been discharged after three days and simply returned. Their decline continues.
 
DeFraites and Weissman advocate “treatment before tragedy.” They favor expanding the legal definition of “gravely disabled” to allow a court to order involuntary treatment for people—not just if they are a danger to themselves or others, but if they can’t make sound medical decisions for themselves. A bill to this effect will be considered by the California State Assembly.
 
While protecting those who are incapable of protecting themselves, it’s important to preserve the individual’s freedom of choice. To balance those goals, DeFraites and Weissman stressed that outreach workers, medical professionals, and related agencies should:
  • Exhaust all efforts to get the individual to accept voluntary help.
  • Make sure the individual understands the recommended treatment and can express a choice before seeking involuntary treatment.
  • Carefully record evidence of long-term dysfunction, such as the person’s trips to the ER, rejected offers of professional help, harassing behavior, citations by LAPD, and observations by nurses.
  • Increase the number of conservators. Court-appointed conservatorship is legally complex but potentially an effective step toward recovered health and a life in shelter. A conservator could make decisions for the person’s health, maybe for as few as six months. The conservatorship could be withdrawn as soon as the person can safely transition into the appropriate care and housing. NAMI helps support citizens willing to serve in this role.
Weissman and DeFraites said PPTFH is doing the right thing. We brought in Glanda and Maureen as fulltime outreach professionals. Our volunteers have tried to reunite our troubled people with their families. Dr. DeFraites urged us to share what we have done with other communities.
 
Nina Kidd
Communications Committee
Count participants during orientation

Homeless Count 2018: Mostly Good News
 
They met before dawn January 25 at Mercer Hall, Palisades Charter High School. PPTFH volunteers, our outreach professionals, and six LAPD officers shared bagels and coffee, then formed in teams for instructions and a training video. Soon afterward, 10 carloads deployed through the Palisades to locate and record the number of unhoused people who slept here. Every year, we participate in a point-in-time count of homeless people in Pacific Palisades, part of an effort across greater Los Angeles.

“It all came together.”  
Hours later the last team dropped off its tally. Our fourth annual count went off without a hitch. Organizer Kim Clary was smiling. Clary credited her husband, David Morena, PPTFH Treasurer, as well as Doug McCormick, PPTFH President, and his wife Kristen, with planning, setting up teams, and recording the numbers to send to LAHSA (Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority). The citywide count is an important measure of how our own homelessness effort is succeeding. LAHSA will release the official results of the 2018 count later this year.

Thanks, Palisadian Friends!
We are so grateful to the dedicated individuals and organizations who took part in, or supported, the count. Nearly 70% of our 2018 volunteers have served before. Some first signed on in 2014. Noah’s Bagels, Starbucks, Ralphs, and Vons provided refreshments.

Good News: The Bluffs Are Safer  
The teams found only scattered sleepers along the beaches. All the homeless people who were in our fire-prone bluffs are now housed or have not been seen in several months. A cooperative effort by LAPD, our outreach professionals, and volunteer CLEANup work parties in 2017 contributed to this improvement.

We Need to Continue Our Effort
The numbers indicate that new homeless individuals are still coming into the Palisades. The good news is that our outreach team is helping people get off the streets at a slightly faster rate than new individuals are arriving on the streets.
 
Nina Kidd
Communications Committee
County Beaches and Harbors crew holding contact cards
Enforcement Coordination Update

PPTFH has had great success partnering with city and county agencies to reduce homelessness in Pacific Palisades and keep our beaches, bluffs, and parks safe and clean for everyone to enjoy.
 
Our law-enforcement coordination committee works closely with the various local agencies operating in the beaches, bluffs, and parks in Santa Monica Canyon and Pacific Palisades. The LAPD beach patrol, with lead officer John (“Rusty”) Redican, is in constant communication with LA County lifeguards, Beaches and Harbors crew, and LA City Recreation and Parks staff. Our goal is to have any of these staff contact us when they encounter homeless individuals in need of services, so we can follow up with The People Concern outreach team.
 
All of these agencies have our outreach contact cards to hand out to folks in need. We also work with them to address serious problems like camping in high-risk fire areas.
 
Sharon Kilbride
Chair, Enforcement Coordination Committee

Fundraising Celebrations
 
In the photo below, PPTFH President Doug McCormick (L) and Treasurer David Morena (R) celebrate a donation from new PPTFH supporter Kevyn Wynn (center).

Kevyn recently moved to the Palisades, believes in contributing to her community, and heard about PPTFH’s work. She reached out to us saying that she wants to “be involved, learn, and help any way I can.” When Kevyn learned about our outreach team’s great “on-the-ground work” and their need for a van, she said, “This is something I can do now, please let me help with the van.” We are grateful to Kevyn for her “let’s do it” spirit and generosity.
Below, Maureen Rivas (L) and Glanda Sherman (R), PPTFH’s outreach team from The People Concern, are all smiles because they have a new, “gently used” van for their outreach work with our Palisades homeless individuals. The van has low mileage, plastic seat covers to allow thorough cleaning on a regular basis, and plenty of room for people needing assistance and transportation to appointments and services. The van is just the right size for carrying needed outreach supplies as well as driving and parking safely around town. We are happy for Glanda and Maureen and our homeless people and grateful to the donor, Kevyn Wynn!
 
In the photo below, Sara Marti (center) of The Yogurt Shoppe, presents a portion of the income from yogurt sales in January 2018 to PPTFH. Dedicated “repeat contributors” like The Yogurt Shoppe are what makes PPTFH’s ongoing work and financial sustainability possible. We are grateful to the Yogurt Shoppe for its steadfast support and caring! Accepting on behalf of PPTFH are Sharon Kilbride (L), chair of the Enforcement Coordination Committee, and Nancy Klopper (R), member of the Fundraising and Enforcement Coordination committees

Barbara Overland
Chair, Fundraising Committee

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Copyright © PPTFH, All rights reserved.
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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