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Winter shelter, expanded homeless outreach services announced for Venice

A partnership with a local homeless outreach organization and the re-opening of the Westside Winter Shelter will provide expanded services and warm beds to people on the streets in Venice and on the Westside, L.A. Councilman Mike Bonin announced today.

A formal agreement between the City of Los Angeles and People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), which was proposed by Bonin, was unanimously approved by the City Council last week. The contract between the City and PATH will allow PATH to focus outreach services on the Venice community, and will prioritize outreach on chronically homeless individuals, and transitioning them into housing opportunities.

“PATH is an excellent organization with a proven history of getting people off the street and connected with the services they need,” said Bonin. “No one in Los Angeles who is willing to accept help should be forced to rest their head on pavement at night. Working with the County, local service providers like PATH and neighbors in Venice, we are going to get as many people as possible in a warm bed and off the streets of our neighborhoods.”

The timing of the contract coincides with the re-opening of the Westside Winter Shelter, which is operated by First to Serve Inc. and offers 160 beds for people who would otherwise sleep on the street in Westside communities. The Shelter will be open from December 1 until March 1, 2015 at the West Los Angeles National Guard Armory in West LA. Shuttles carry people from a pickup location Market Street and Ocean Front Walk to the armory each evening between 5:00 pm and 7:15 pm.

“Especially with the rain starting yesterday, it is important that people know the Winter Shelter is open and that a bed is waiting,” said Bonin.

The Councilmember said he hoped the shelter program and the outreach services would help reduce the population of homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks in Venice. The population has swelled in recent months as a result of court actions which have facilitated a growing number of encampments and handcuffed the city’s ability to clear those encampments from sidewalks.

“Venice has unfortunately become one of the city’s centers of homeless encampments, creating public health and public safety issues for the neighbors and merchants on and around the Boardwalk and in many neighborhoods of Venice,” said Bonin. “PATH is going to reach out to the people who are willing to accept services, so they get the attention they need and so residential neighborhoods do not become permanent de facto campgrounds.”

The contract with PATH is one of a series of actions Bonin has taken to address homelessness, health and safety issues in Venice, including securing $500,000 in the Bureau of Sanitation’s budget to provide additional services in Venice and calling for more police officers to be dedicated to the Venice area.

“Addressing homelessness and solving the problems facing Venice is not going to be easy, and it is not going to happen quickly,” said Bonin. “It will take focus, cooperation, and a multi-pronged strategy involving various government agencies, community organizations, and residents. My staff and I are working with partners every single day to find solutions that work for Venice and I am optimistic about the future of our neighborhoods.”

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