Welcome to the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH) Newsetter
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September 2019 Newsletter
In this issue:
Past Newsletters
Videos of Past Community Meetings
 
President’s Message
 
Homelessness is a symptom. How often do we mistake a symptom for the root problem? When we see a puddle we may think it’s the problem because someone might slip on it. But the root problem one should probably focus attention on is the leak in the pipe. Many people agree that a root problem behind homelessness is housing.
 
Most readers of this newsletter already know that. But what exactly are we (you and I) doing about it? PPTFH has held and will continue to hold meetings to discuss ideas about housing. Later in this newsletter you’ll read about the July speaker at our Community Meeting, Lew Horne from CBRE, who presented many of the issues around housing the homeless population, including NIMBYism in almost every community.  At our upcoming September Community Meeting hopefully you’ll have a chance to hear what Mike Bonin, our Councilmember, and Heidi Marston, CPO at LAHSA, have to say about housing. Governor Newsom has launched a “Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force” which many hope will present new ideas about housing.
 
Perhaps what we (you and I) can do is keep the conversation moving forward. The problem is massive and progress slow. We should appreciate the progress and keep asking for more.
 
In a July 20 LA Times article, statistics were listed on how many were housed in LA County in 2018:
   5,158 Permanent Supportive Housing 
   7,258 Rapid Rehousing Program
   9,215 Other permanent housing
 21,631 (up 23% vs. 2017)
 
 58,936 Homeless in LA County (up 12% vs. 2017)
 
About 2,000 housing units are expected to be built from Proposition HHH money each year starting next year. Is that the best we can do?
 
The Palisades Library Association is starting an annual event called Palisades Reads where a book is chosen about a topical issue and a meeting is held to discuss the book and the issue. Their first event is scheduled for Wed, Oct 23 and homelessness is part, although not all, of the issue the book addresses. They've asked me to be on the panel. (friendsofpalilibrary.org)
 
"We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own." (Ben Sweetland)
 
Doug McCormick
President, PPTFH
Outreach Update
Outreach Team Progress, January 2016 – July 2019
 
This month’s outreach article features the successful work that our outreach team is doing with Mike (not his real name), one of the 56 individuals - reflected by the yellow bar in the above chart - who are living on our streets. Currently, because of insufficient housing and housing vouchers, we have no choice but to redirect our “rapid housing” strategy toward one that is less rapid, where we work longer with clients on the street until housing becomes available.
 
The team first encountered Mike in April 2019. Mike has been homeless since December 2018 and initially strongly rejected services. He experienced severe trauma throughout his life which makes it hard for him to trust enough to have a working relationship with anyone. He grew up with a highly abusive father, suffers from chronic pain, eventually married, had children and then suffered a devastating divorce. His children still refuse to see or speak to him and his world disintegrated. He fell deeper into alcoholism and began to think about suicide.
 
The team continued to contact Mike and brought him medical services to address his most urgent needs. Over the last four months the team established a relationship with Mike and focused on helping him battle his thoughts of suicide. With the help of the street medicine team, Mike is now on anti-depressant medication and in his words is “feeling better than ever.” On his own, Mike quit drinking (“cold turkey”) because he learned and accepted that if he continues, his health is such that the alcohol will kill him and he “wants to live.”
 
Mike is currently fully engaged. The team will continue to work with him towards the goal of his entering supportive housing. Both Mike and the team are optimistic.
 
Sharon Browning
Chair, Outreach Oversight Committee
Enlisting the Private Sector on Housing and Homelessness
Lew Horne, Guest Speaker
“Despite all the taxpayer funds being thrown at the problem, we are not making much progress reducing homelessness in LA. Our economy is one of the most innovative, vibrant, and wealthy in the country. If we can’t figure out a solution, how can anyone?”
 
In paraphrase, that challenge was delivered by keynote speaker Lewis C. Horne at PPTFH’s community meeting July 22. Horne, president of the Pacific Southwest Division of CBRE, the largest real-estate services company in the U.S., spoke passionately about LA’s homelessness crisis and his efforts to enlist the private sector in forging a solution that both promotes public safety and compassionately addresses the needs of the underserved among us.
 
The scope of the crisis is daunting: 59,000 citizens—1% of the county population—lack a roof over their heads. Horne asserts that one-third of the homeless population are mentally ill; one-third suffer from drug addiction; and one-third are down on their luck. Encampments and tent cities pile up in neighborhoods—and by law can’t easily be removed. Diseases long thought to be controlled or eradicated (e.g., hepatitis, typhus) have broken out in encampments and a nearby police station. Three homeless people die every day. There is a critical shortage of housing, with an LA residential vacancy rate of 2–3% and skyrocketing rents. Efforts to build new housing are stymied by permitting hurdles, high construction costs (currently $550,000 per unit using public funds), and neighborhood opposition.
 
Horne’s interest in a solution goes beyond commercial and public-service concerns. Eight years ago, a close family member died of an undiagnosed illness in a homeless camp. Horne has since committed to educating himself by talking with public officials, social-service organizations, and homeless individuals. In turn, he is trying to educate private-sector CEOs about the risks homelessness poses to business development and public safety.
 
As a start to addressing the lack of housing, CBRE last year created a database of 55,000 unused government-owned properties. These sites could potentially be used for permanent supportive housing. Horne cited FlyawayHomes as an example of a private organization that builds permanent supporting housing from shipping containers at $170,000 per unit, a fraction of the cost using public funds. (See PPTFH’s September 2018 newsletter for more about FlyawayHomes). CBRE is currently working with another real-estate developer to creatively finance permanent housing on 25 identified sites. Horne is encouraging other CEOs to contribute funds as a matter of corporate social responsibility.
 
But the most urgent need, Horne said, is for temporary shelters. Serious obstacles are not so much funding or construction but restrictive laws and community opposition. The current federal appeals court (“Boise”) decision prohibits cities from removing tents unless shelter space is available for the entire homeless population. So, along with safe shelters, we need community-protection laws. As for community opposition, Horne maintained that city officials and politicians are trying to do the right thing to develop shelters and reassure local citizens about the public-safety benefits of supportive housing, but community fears have led to implacable opposition and delaying lawsuits. “People are upset and want the problem fixed, but they don’t want to see it,” he said. Ultimately, he acknowledged, it may take “a tent in your front yard” to change minds about the building of local shelters.
 
Horne praised PPTFH as a model of public-private partnership that has identified local needs and successfully moved most of the community’s homeless individuals off the streets while protecting public safety. He encouraged breaking down the homelessness problem into “swim lanes,” where communities could address each aspect (mental health treatment, legal issues, housing development) in light of local conditions and with the help of experts.
 
Christine d’Arc Taylor
Communications Committee
 
Law Enforcement Coordination Committee Update
(Above) Sophie engaging with homeless person
(Below) Needles found at recent abandoned camp
We welcome our new volunteer Sophie Croucier to our team.  Sophie is our youngest member at the ripe old age of 28. Sophie is excited and enthusiastic about engaging new homeless folks coming into the Will Rogers beach and bluffs areas and linking them to services. Sophie has worked as a personal assistant to some of Hollywood’s A-listers and has compassion and patience, qualities needed to gain the trust of our homeless population.
 
On Tuesday, July 30, 2019, LA City Council reinstated section 85.02 of LA municipal code which prohibits individuals from using a vehicle for dwelling between the hours of 9pm-6am on residential streets and anytime within 500 feet of a park, a licensed school, pre-school or daycare facility. Our LAPD beach patrol team often finds folks dwelling in their cars, informs them about this law, and nudges them to our outreach team for services.
 
In the month of July our team discovered 21 new abandoned homeless camps along our beaches and bluffs.  These camps were all cleaned up by our volunteers. On Friday, August 9, Dave Galvan, a taco truck owner, told us about an abandoned camp along Temescal Road just up from his food truck. On Sunday, August 11 we inspected the area with our LAPD beach patrol officers, and found a large abandoned camp and some concerning contents. We uncovered needles, glass methamphetamine pipes, bottles of alcohol, bear spray, and massive quantities of trash. Volunteers Sharon Kilbride and Patrick Hart cleaned up the camp and filled up 8 contractor’s bags with trash.
 
If you see a camp, please email sharon.kilbride@yahoo.com or call our hotline at 310-460-2630 with the exact location of the camp. Please do not enter these camps without LAPD being present.
 
Sharon Kilbride
Chair, Law Enforcement Coordination Committee
Consider the Benefits and the Costs
Outreach worker Glanda Sherman (R) with LAFD emergency medical team
LAPD Officer Rusty Redican (L)
While the number of homeless individuals in the greater Los Angeles area continues to grow, Pacific Palisades has seen a 59% reduction in the number of its homeless people since January 2016, according to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) figures. This success is made possible through hundreds of donated PPTFH volunteer hours, the special efforts of PPTFH’s contracted service provider, The People Concern, and the effective work of our outstanding LAPD officers. All of these services come at a cost, drawing on PPTFH’s annual $175,000 - $200,000 budget.
 
PPTFH is fortunate to presently have five Funding Partners – Saint John’s Health Center Foundation, the American Legion Post 283, St. Matthew’s Parish, Corpus Christi Parish and the Cody Family Foundation. However, our Funding Partners do not cover all of PPTFH’s costs. To fill the gap, we must rely on support from individual donors from our community, the residents and business people who benefit from this work’s success.
 
We celebrate all our generous individual donors who are motivated by their own sense of community and caring compassion in continuing to contribute over the four-and-a-half years since PPTFH’s inception. The largest group of individual donors (519) represents nearly 80% of all donations. A number of these loyal supporters have donated 15-20 times in this $0-500 category. However, these donations contribute just 8% toward the total annual costs. To achieve sustainability, PPTFH must maintain and grow the number base of its individual donor supporters. With approximately 9,500 households in the Palisades, if every household donated $10 a year then nearly half of the annual program budget would be covered. And, think what $25 per year could do!
 
Donations can be made through:
  • The Donate button at the end of the Newsletter
  • The website PPTFH.org
  • Checks to PPTFH, P.O. Box 331, Pacific Palisades CA 90272
 
Pat Lorne
Fundraising Committee
Volunteer Committee Update
Claire Healy presenting the project
Six months ago, a program was developed to collect in-kind donations for our homeless individuals on an on-going basis. The donations were to help PPTFH’s outreach workers Glanda and Jessi from The People Concern with our homeless individuals. This program was developed by Claire Healy in pursuit of her Girl Scout Gold Award. The Community United Methodist Church supplied a storage room to house items, such as hygiene kits, clothes, blankets and sunscreen. DeAnn Healy keeps this storage room organized and up-to-date.  An online program link at http://tinyurl.com/pptfhgive lets you know what items are needed. 
 
We are happy to report that this program is working very successfully!   Thank you Claire, DeAnn and the United Methodist Church. We really appreciate your hard work in getting this program off the ground and keeping it going.
 
If you care about PPTFH’s mission, and would like to join this worthwhile effort, please consider volunteering with us.
 
How you can help:
  • If you like to hike, walk, or bike in your neighborhood, join our law enforcement coordination committee in engaging our homeless neighbors and connecting them to outreach service workers from The People Concern.
  • If you are a writer, help us prepare articles for our newsletter or write grant proposals.
  • Donate items such as hygiene supplies or seasonally appropriate clothing for our outreach workers to distribute, but please donate only items you find on the list. Go to http://tinyurl.com/pptfhgive for the listAll items can be delivered to the office at Community United Methodist Church at 801 Via de la Paz in the Palisades, Mon-Fri 8am-2pm.
  • Register on SignUpGenius.com to stay up-to-date with the list. Click here to see how to register.
 
For more information about volunteering, see our website, www.pptfh.org, and click Contribute. We look forward to hearing from you!
 
Kim Clary
Chair, Volunteer Committee
Governor Newsom Appoints a Homelessness Task Force
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and Governor Newsom
Every year, US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) conducts a count of the homeless population, county by county. This year’s numbers in California underscore a rapidly escalating crisis across the entire state. Nearly 130,000 people in California are homeless, 90,000 of whom are unsheltered. Fueled by increased housing costs and few low-income options, most counties last year, from urban districts to rural areas, saw significant growth in the number of homeless in their communities. In Los Angeles, the homeless population rose 12% to 59,000 (with around 45,000 unsheltered), making it the largest homeless population in the state.
 
These findings have mobilized state and county leaders to commit resources to fighting the homeless epidemic. “What we’re experiencing now is the likes of which I have never seen, in every city in this state,” declared Governor Gavin Newsom. “And it requires a massive intervention. Finally, the state of California is going to be part of that [intervention].” On May 21, Governor Newsom announced the formation of the Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force, appointing Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas as its co-chairs. Governor Newsom also pledged $1 billion to start fighting the problem, with a particular focus on early intervention, diversion, and prevention. This is in addition to about $2 billion already approved to increase housing. $250 million of the $1 billion will be earmarked for LA city and county. Adds Newsom, Let us start targeting our single adult street population as the top priority because that is the most vexing, challenging, and frustrating thing happening in our state.”
 
Steinberg and Ridley-Thomas presented their first plan in August 2019, modeled on New York’s “right to shelter” policy, which states that every homeless person is entitled to shelter indoors. Their proposal for California, however, would take it further adding that if enough beds are available to shelter every homeless person in the state, individuals could be forced to accept shelter. Governor Newsom rejected the plan claiming that the state could not pay for the construction of that many shelter beds. However, he welcomed the proposal and the debate it stimulated, and cautioned about “compassion fatigue.” He said quoting Aristotle, “We ‘can’t live a good life in an unjust society’…All of us have a role to play. All of us should recognize our fate is tied to the fate of others.” 
 
At PPTFH, in our work to help our community’s homeless get services and into housing, we’ve experienced the numerous roadblocks firsthand. Chief among those roadblocks is first and foremost a lack of permanent supportive housing. This year the shortage is particularly acute. Given our experience as well as our own data, we have found that the creation of more permanent housing should be a necessary part of any plan. We will continue tracking the progress of Newsom’s advisory task force with great interest and hope.
 
Heather Keller
Communications Committee
Community Meeting September 23

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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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