The City Council of the City of West Hollywood received an update about the City’s Homeless Initiative as part of its regular meeting agenda on Monday, June 21, 2021 at 5 p.m. The update provided the City Council and the community with details about regional and local homeless services, City-funded non-profit agency program outcomes, and homeless services provided to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The City’s Human Services and Rent Stabilization Department’s Strategic Initiatives Division oversees the West Hollywood Homeless Initiative in coordination with the City’s Social Services Division. The Homeless Initiative is a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency collaborative response, which includes multiple City Departments, City-funded social service agencies, the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and Los Angeles County agencies.
The full 2021 West Hollywood Homeless Initiative progress report is available at www.weho.org/homeless.
Notable Homeless Initiative updates and highlights include:
- Developing a local homeless service access center, bridge housing, and supportive housing facility for people experiencing homelessness in West Hollywood. A consultant, selected in spring 2021, will conduct a feasibility study of select locations within the City of West Hollywood to determine where to site and develop these services. The feasibility study is funded through a Measure H grant provided by the LA County CEO’s Office and the LA County Homeless Initiative;
- Pledging support for Mayors for a Guaranteed Income and beginning to develop a guaranteed income pilot in the City of West Hollywood to address financial insecurity faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual older adult renter households on fixed incomes who may be at risk of homelessness; and
- Increasing collaboration between Tarzana Treatment Centers and the West Hollywood Division of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to help divert people away from the criminal justice system and connect them directly to substance use disorder treatment.
Since October 2016, through West Hollywood’s focused efforts, the City of West Hollywood and its partners have successfully supported more than 160 youth and adults in establishing permanent housing and ending their experience of homelessness; a remarkable 78 of these housing placements have occurred since October 2019, which marked the beginning of the City of West Hollywood’s FY19-22 Social Service Grants contract cycle.
The City looks to a range of data to understand changes in the number of community members experiencing homelessness in West Hollywood. For example, West Hollywood data from the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, the annual point-in-time count facilitated by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, documented 81 people in 2016, a peak of 131 people in 2019, and a reduction to 112 people in 2020. Through the City’s contract with Ascencia, outreach teams provide the City with monthly data on the number of unsheltered community members in city public spaces and reports from the second half of 2020 and for the first five months of 2021 show monthly averages that are lower than the year prior.
The City of West Hollywood is also an Everyone In city. Everyone In is a community movement with United Way of Greater Los Angeles to end the homelessness and housing crisis by building public and political will to create solutions, and affordable and supportive housing in every part of Los Angeles County. Upcoming Everyone In events are listed on the Everyone In website: https://everyoneinla.org/events/.
The West Hollywood Homeless Initiative rapidly adapted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
During the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Homeless Initiative rapidly adapted to focus on promoting and safeguarding the health of vulnerable community members and frontline staff. The City maintained connectivity to LA County and the State as the emergency response evolved and it focused on quickly sharing information about changing resources to ensure that the City’s network of contracted providers were best positioned to meet the urgent needs of unhoused community members.
The following actions taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic advance the efforts of the West Hollywood Homeless Initiative:
- Prevented homelessness among vulnerable West Hollywood renters with City Council-approved emergency funding for rental assistance and emergency meals. Two of the City’s contracted Social Services agency partners, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Alliance for Housing and Healing administered the City’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance programs. Since March 16, 2020, a total of $1,535,258 has been allocated to emergency rental assistance which has been distributed through 1,861 grants to 576 unduplicated households. A total of 70,000 emergency meals and packaged groceries have been provided to vulnerable residents with the help of MV Transportation, American GTS, and Ambiance delivering meals prepared by Project Angel Food and Jewish Family Services;
- Increased local access to COVID-19 testing and vaccination through pop-up events. The City coordinated directly with the LA County Department of Public Health and the Department of Health Services to facilitate low-barrier access to testing and vaccines;
- Promoted public health through the provision of emergency supplies to unsheltered individuals including hygiene products, masks, and bottled water. Approximately $14,000 in funding from the LA County Homeless Initiative paid for 12,000 masks and more than 4,800 units of hand sanitizer. Additional funding through the City brought the total masks purchased and distributed to 35,000 and total count of hand sanitizers to more than 8,000. These supplies were distributed to unhoused community members by City-contracted homeless outreach teams and the West Hollywood Division of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; and
- Passage of Measure E in the November 2020 General Municipal Election. West Hollywood voters approved a ¾-cent sales tax to address the City’s COVID-19 revenue shortfall and longer-term impacts to the economy from COVID-19. Measure E will help the City maintain services West Hollywood residents have indicated are important, including: addressing homelessness; expanding health and mental health services; retaining local businesses and jobs; keeping public areas clean and safe; maintaining HIV and AIDS health services; and supporting disaster preparedness.
The work of the West Hollywood Homeless Initiative is established in part in the 2018 “Five Year Plan to Address Homelessness in Our Community.” In partnership with the community, and with funding support from LA County Measure H, the plan identifies seven goals – and key actions to reach these goals – based on feedback from the West Hollywood community and stakeholders:
- Goal #1: Provide support and resources to City staff and contractors in responding appropriately, safely, and effectively to persons who are experiencing homelessness in West Hollywood.
- Goal #2: Support businesses and residents in responding appropriately, safely, and effectively to persons who are experiencing homelessness in West Hollywood.
- Goal #3: Establish bridge housing and day center facilities in West Hollywood to serve people who are homeless in the City.
- Goal #4: Continue the City’s support for the Rapid Re-Housing program to prevent homelessness among West Hollywood residents.
- Goal #5: Increase the number of supportive housing, special needs housing, and other permanent housing options in West Hollywood for people who have experienced or are at risk of homelessness.
- Goal #6: Strengthen partnerships with other cities and with nonprofit organizations to support regional and individualized solutions to homelessness.
- Goal #7: Prevent homelessness among West Hollywood residents, especially seniors, individuals living with disabilities, and vulnerable families.
Making strides toward the goals of West Hollywood’s Five-Year Plan remains critically important in directing the local response to homelessness.
The West Hollywood Homeless Initiative seeks to effectively address homelessness. If you are concerned about a community member who is homeless, call the West Hollywood Homeless Initiative Concern Line at (323) 848-6590. If your concern requires time-sensitive assistance during nights or weekends, please call the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station at (310) 855-8850.