By Nick Antonicello
A candidate with a plan to cure the ills of homelessness here in Venice and the rest of CD-11.
It’s about time.
For Mike Newhouse, supporting existing resources and proven, yet ignored strategies is at the core of his plan to get the homeless off the streets in 30-days of assuming office should he succeed outgoing Councilman Mike Bonin in the all-important June 7th Primary.
At the core of Newhouse’s proposal is prioritizing “mental health, detox and addiction services” while making these critical services the cornerstone of effectively ending street homelessness here in CD-11.
Newhouse is proposing 30-day notices from posting notifications on Day-1 through the Day-30 clearance that will be headed by emergency outreach teams consisting of social workers, mental health workers and addiction counselors and other medical staff, not law enforcement.
The goal is to provide detox and addiction recovery solutions as well as mental health services and shelter, as that term is defined and as is required under the Jones and Boise settlements.
According to Newhouse, these “brick and mortar” shelters will consist of fully staffed, permanent supportive housing as well as pop-up shelters, as provided in disaster situations by the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA), pallet homes, as well as safe camping areas for “park functional” vehicles with the appropriate dumping services until permanent homes come online through HHH funding.
“It’s time for a serious proposal minus the political rhetoric by others that just doesn’t solve the problem,” offered the Venice resident, homeowners, husband and father.
Newhouse said funding for addiction services can be provided through the utilization of private and public treatment facilities and if those patients are a danger to themselves or others, we will utilize the California Welfare & Institutions Code 5150 and 5120 to ensure real treatment access.
“These options are humane, underutilized and often necessary in protecting the mentally ill from harming themselves or others.”
Those now sheltered will be assigned their own outreach worker who will provide the daily monitoring to assist them to make a successful recovery to society according to Newhouse.
There will be no timeline on this treatment as some will recover more quickly than others.
“We will not sentence people to a return to the streets, nor make communities continue to live with the consequences of homelessness in our neighborhoods,” offered Newhouse.
Newhouse stressed the use of existing city, county and state funds while seeking federal assistance as well.
One difference with the Newhouse plan is the decision to seek out private funding too.
“LA is home to countless, progressive multi-millionaires and several billionaires, and elected officials should lobby this untapped resource, as there are many with the clout and connections to help solve one of the most serious public health crises of our time,” noted the private businessman with two decades of volunteer service to his community of Venice and the rest of the Westside.
Newhouse noted that roughly 70,000 homeless individuals reside on the streets LA and the county and that city government has appropriated $1 billion dollars to fight a problem municipal officials are clearly losing.
According to Newhouse, there has been a 133% increase in homelessness between 2015 and 2020 here in LA, while other cities have experienced decreases in their homeless population.
UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM:
Newhouse notes that as home to Silicon Beach, some of the most sophisticated data analytics talent are within the district, yet CD-11 does not employ the “data-driven strategies” that other municipalities are currently deploying.
Newhouse is proposing real “by person” data and real-time mapping, that will identify who is homeless and why.
“We can connect people with the support that they need on a real-time, individualized basis.”
CONSTRUCT SAFE PARKING AND SAFE CAMPING PROGRAMS FOR THE HOMELESS:
39% of all homeless in LA County live in cars and recreational vehicles and current availability is approximately 150 spaces. Newhouse stressed that safe parking spaces will be part of the menu of solutions for the homeless community.
“Many California cities have operated safe camping programs and there is no reason not to offer the same here in CD-11.”
ELIMINATE THE ENCAMPMENTS:
Newhouse believes offering a true timeline for ending street living will change the notion that random encampments can continue in the current, third-world conditions.
The deployment of emergency outreach teams consisting of the appropriate professional skill set will help determine root causes of homelessness and that particular individual’s case says Newhouse.
By Day-30, individuals will be either housed, sheltered or given the opportunity to camp in clean and regulated parking locations as another alternative to unhoused options as providing permanent solutions becomes more apparent.
CREATIVE HOUSING OPTIONS FOR THOSE UNHOUSED:
With construction costs now over $800,000 per unit, Newhouse is suggesting more “out-of-the-box” ideas such as shared housing, the repurposing of vacant public buildings, emergency FEMA style shelters, as well as rapid rehousing using vouchers and other subsidies.
“We need to focus on building transitional and affordable housing as well as semi-private shelters that include mental health services too.”
Newhouse believes not every homeless individual needs permanent supportive housing and points to economic instability as another cause of the problem.
Newhouse is also a supporter of family reunification as another option to get people back on their feet with the assistance of loved ones.
TIME TO KEEP THE PROMISE OF CURING THIS COMPLEX ISSUE OF HOMELESSNESS:
Newhouse believes too many “broken promises” have been made about the construction of affordable housing to solve this ongoing crisis.
“I promise residents that we will maintain the sidewalks around any location where services are provided. At the end of the day we need to restore trust by honoring our commitments.”
REGIONAL HEALTH DEPARTMENTS NOW:
Newhouse also will invest in independent, regional health departments.
Newhouse also endorses the creation of a LA City Health Department.
Newhouse believes this is a priority moving forward should he be successful come the June 7th Primary where many believe a runoff is probable between the first and second-place finishers.
Newhouse will also lobby for state and federal funding to reach these public policy goals and objectives.
“We need to be bold now.”
Many believe the current county health system is simply “too big and ineffective,” and an alternative route to care is essential for those unhoused according to the candidate.
“Ending rampant homelessness on our streets is the top priority of my community safety plan. With family in both military and law enforcement, I am well aware of the challenges they face. I am committed to safe streets and restoring the quality-of-life conditions we once all enjoyed. By all metrics, reported crime is up and homelessness can no longer be ignored. I believe my plan will work best to solve this crisis within our midst. It can be done and setting a timeline for solving the problem is not only essential, but doable. We can do this together.”
Over the past two decades Mike Newhouse has tirelessly served as a community advocate for Venice and the Westside.
A demonstrated problem-solver and consensus builder, Newhouse is dedicated to a positive and issue-oriented campaign in the era of Trumpism and the lack of confidence in the elected officials of today.
Born and raised in eastern LA County, Newhouse graduated magna cum laude from USC and earned his law degree from the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College. A father with two school-age sons, Mike and his wife Ruthie, also an attorney are homeowners on Harrison Avenue in Venice.
Nick Antonicello is a longtime Venetian who covers the political scene as it effects Venice. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org