LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin announced Thursday his office will begin an "Encampment to Home" program on Monday in Westchester Park, where dozens of unhoused people have taken up residence.
The effort will be modeled after Bonin's program in Venice Beach over the summer, which brought 213 people living on the beach and boardwalk indoors with a promise of a pathway to permanent housing. So far, 49 of those people have moved into permanent housing and 122 are in interim housing, awaiting permanent placements. The remaining 42 include people who were reunified with family or are awaiting permanent housing but left the interim housing placements.
"We learned a lot with the success we saw in Venice," said Bonin. "When you work with people and focus on creating suitable alternatives to encampments, then people come inside and everyone wins. Housing people and providing the support and services they need is the most urgent priority in Los Angeles and we owe it to every neighbor in Los Angeles to build upon the achievements we have made with Encampments to Home's efforts so far."
Bonin's office will work with People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and Grassroots Neighbors, based in Playa del Rey.
Outreach through the program will begin on Monday, Bonin's office said, but PATH and Grassroots Neighbors have been conducting outreach in the park for months, connecting 31 of the park's temporary residents with housing and services. An exact number was not released, but Bonin's office said dozens of people are still living in the park, and they'll be offered interim shelter with a pathway to permanent housing.
"It doesn't solve anything to temporarily displace people, only for them to end up back out on the street," said Bonin. "Until people are permanently and stably housed, we won't be fully successful. Now that we have the resources available to create a pathway to permanent housing for people, we must act aggressively to get people housed and public spaces returned to full public use."
The Westchester Park operation is expected to take place over four weeks, and initial shelter placements include hotels and motels. The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved $1.1 million for the program, and the permanent housing accommodations will be provided through rapid re-housing vouchers, recovery re-housing slots and Emergency Housing Vouchers funded by the American Rescue Plan.
"We are very excited — this is the result of months of planning and organizing," said Stephanie Tatro, co-founder of Grassroots Neighbors. "We know that criminalizing doesn't work and getting people housed quickly is the most effective way to address homelessness in our communities."