LOS ANGELES - In a new outreach effort to combat the homelessness crisis in Venice starting Monday, Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin said they will offer "homes, not handcuffs."
The latest effort comes amid an ongoing political feud between Councilman Bonin and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
Bonin said they do not anticipate immediate results and that the program, in partnership with the St. Joseph Center, is expected to take up to six weeks. Teams will offer those experiencing homelessness along the Venice Beach Boardwalk assistance including housing and mental health services.
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Those who live in the oceanside encampment will be given the choice of accepting the offer or moving out of the area. Bonin said his plan differs from Sheriff Villanueva’s, who has been critical of the many plans aimed to address LA’s homeless crisis.
"The only real, demonstrated proven solution to homelessness is housing. The repeated solution that Los Angeles has tried for decades that has failed and has made the program worse is handcuffs," Bonin said.
Bonin said that before the six-week program began Monday, teams from the St. Joseph Center helped 19 people experiencing homelessness find shelter.
Sheriff Villanueva said he doesn’t necessarily want to be in Venice but City and County officials have failed the community, the residents, the tourists, and the unhoused, which is why he’s moving in to take matters into his own hands.
Villanueva said his deputies have found housing for at least 15 people but there are an estimated 200 residents on the boardwalk.
Initial funding was slated at $5 million and the LA City Council had to postpone the vote until July 1 for fiscal and procedural reasons.