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Column: LAHSA Claims 50% Reduction of Homeless Population in Venice, 39% Drop in CD-11!

By Nick Antonicello

In what is being touted as an improvement of the homeless condition on the streets of Los Angeles as well as the neighborhood of Venice, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (www.lahsa.org) has announced new figures that indicate a 50% decrease on the streets of Venice and a 39% decrease within CD-11 regarding the homeless. 

Here are the numbers as released by LAHSA: https://www.lahsa.org/documents?id=6562-venice-hc2022-data-summary

In CD11 there was a 39% drop: https://www.lahsa.org/documents?id=6527-cd-11-pre-redistricting-hc2022-data-summary

The controversial, quasi city and county agency that has come under fire from the fiercest critics of homelessness and the encampment debacle that has been a reason to abolish LAHSA and take a radically different approach to the homeless crisis depending on who becomes the next mayor and the new representative here in CD-11. 

Nevertheless, the figures have been made public and the year-over-year figures indicate progress moving forward. 

While many are celebrating the reductions, some are questioning the reliability of the figures as well of the timing of the release of the results as we enter the critical campaign months of September and October and how this data could impact the race to succeed Mike Bonin as the council member here in CD-11. 

Bonin, who was forced from the race last January as a second recall attempt secured some 95% of the signatures required for a special election dropped out days after recall forces had lost the battle, but won the war for all intent and purposes and ended Bonin’s bid for a third and final term. 

The sole premise of the recall was the Bonin record or lack of one concerning the homeless encampment question as well as his support of the median project and bridge housing here in Venice. That project is now being reviewed by the California Coastal Commission and many believe the statewide body will have an open mind on the future of that proposal that has divided the community for months. 

In the case of bridge housing, few believe the facility is going anywhere no matter who wins the race between two Venice attorneys, Traci Park and Erin Darling. 

The sentiment seems to be that promises were made and broken to area residents and that a new dialogue versus a new location will be the reality as well as the result no matter who wins. 

In what Darling has called a “battle for the soul of the Westside and CD-11,” the two candidates have taken different lanes when it comes to their approach to cultivate support among voters while Park is the perceived “right-of-center” candidate with a populist twist while Darling has taken a more organizational, block-by-block strategy to defeat Park with legions of Generation “Z” volunteers that have been pounding the pavement this summer for weeks. 

Darling has accumulated much of the Democratic Party’s political support as he is clearly the progressive choice and has secured support from nine Democratic Club’s as well as the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the LA Young Democrats, Stonewall Democrats and the endorsement of area legislators who currently represent Venice in Sacramento and county government. To date, Darling has been endorsed by the Los Angeles Times, Senator Ben Allen, Assemblymember Tina McKinnor and outgoing LA Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. 

Darling has also secured a vast majority of public employee unions that represent municipal and county employees. 

Park, who outspent Darling in the June Primary by a 10-1 margin was one of the first candidates in the race to succeed Bonin in July of 2021. 

Her money advantage didn’t seem to effect the results as Darling had an unexpected, upset win over Park in the Primary against this former Republican who has lived in Venice for about a decade. Park describes herself as a “third-generation Angeleno,” but moved out of the district and the Venice neighborhood in January of 2021 according to her voter profile secured from the County Recorder’s Office only to re-register back in Venice in late April of last year. 

Park announced her council bid on July 2, 2021.

Park’s effort has been funded in independent expenditures from numerous law enforcement and public safety collective bargaining groups like the Los Angeles Police Protective League as well as funding from the powerful Apartment Owner’s Lobby of Sacramento. Park has stated she is pro-renter’s rights, the same position as Darling, who is a tenant right’s advocate and life-long Venice resident. 

Darling, a husband and father of a three-year old son is a former member of the Venice Neighborhood Council (www.venicenc.org) who attended law school with California Senators Ben Allen and Henry Stern. 

Park has locked down significant endorsements from California Treasurer Fiona Ma who is seeking reelection as well as outgoing City Controller Ron Galperin and former two-term Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was elected in 2005 and reelected in 2009. Park has also received significant support from the building trade unions such as Plumbers, Pipefitters and Electrical Workers (IBEW). 

Darling, a former Little Leaguer and surfer here in Venice recently was interviewed by the Homeless Committee of the VNC in August as Park was interviewed in July. Both gave articulate and well-founded reasoning on how to address the encampment and crime issues and the drug & gang element that come with tent living. Both have been critical of the current conditions on the streets and both have called for better communication with residents, especially in areas of Venice where homelessness is the most dangerous and toxic. 

Neither candidate has called for closing down Bridge Housing in their interviews with the Committee, and both called for consensus and unity around an issue that has been simply mismanaged by the incumbent for the last five years. 

Darling has stressed the fact “Mike Bonin is not on the ballot,” and that while he received his personal endorsement, that does not suggest an extension of the many policy flaws that plague CD-11 and especially Venice in particular. 

According to the data regarding Venice, here were some benchmark figures: 

  • 259 sheltered, 722 unsheltered
  • The total population year over year represents a 50% homeless reduction
  • No unaccompanied minors are on the streets in Venice
  • 87% are adults over 25
  • 4% are family members under 18 
  • 50% of the Venice homelessness are experiencing chronic homelessness
  • 17% are Latino/Hispanic
  • 27% are African-American 
  • 50% are white
  • 72% are male, 27% female
  • 9% are 62 or over
  • 69% are between the ages of 25 to 54
  • 26% are substance use abusers
  • 25% have severe mental illness

According to the data regarding CD-11, here were other benchmark figures: 

  • 308 sheltered. 1,074 unsheltered (2,012) 
  • 91% are adults 25 and over
  • 9% US Veterans, 5% are chronically homeless
  • 53% in CD-11 are experiencing chronic homelessness
  • 75% are male, 24% female
  • 23% are Latino/Hispanic
  • 24% are African-American 
  • 47% are white
  • 66% are between the ages of 25 to 54
  • 14% are 62 or over
  • 33% are substance abuse users
  • 29% have severe mental illness 

Nick Antonicello is a longtime Venetian who serves on the Outreach and Oceanfront Committees of the Venice Neighborhood Council. Antonicello has filed more stories on the CD-11 council race than any other media outlet. Have a take or an opinion on the Darling/Park contest? Antonicello can be reached online via e-mail at nantoni@mindspring.com.

in Opinion
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