Finding Homes for the Homeless

As far back as 1991, traditional law enforcement techniques didn't work to properly handle the homeless population. The Santa Monica police recognized this problem and created the Homeless Liaison Program.

The HLP consists of six officers who do their best to help homeless persons, and according to the SMPD website they do this by linking them with local agencies "to provide for basic needs to help end the vicious cycle of homelessness in our community."

This "two-pronged" program works
in two ways. First, it helps homeless to
find work for those who can. To do this, the HLP goes through Chrysalis, an agency located at 1837 Lincoln Blvd. that helps homeless persons find employment. The HLP
encourages small business owners who
are looking for qualified workers to go
through this organization.

But still, not all homeless people have
the ability to work a steady job, whether
it is due to substance abuse or mental
illness. The second prong was imbedded
when the HLP established contacts
with Step Up on Second, a research
center that specializes in employment
counseling and permanent housing for
people with mental illness, and The
Clare Foundation, a rehabilitation center
for alcoholics.

Outside of these efforts, the HLP
has also begun to establish transitional
housing for homeless people, where they
can receive treatment and get their lives
back on track.

One of these places is a city owned
building at 1614-1616 Ocean Ave., next
to the boardwalk.

It is home to the OPCC's Daybreak
Day Center, and is a social services
program for mentally ill women. There
has been some controversy about the
Daybreak Day Center.

Some Santa Monica citizens were upset when the city released funds for renovating the
building to add another seven units. It
was noted in a letter to the Santa Monica
Daily Press that selling the building on
Ocean Ave would be more cost effective
than renovation. This citizen thought
using the profits from the old building
near the beach to purchase a larger unit
that could house more people, would be
more logical.

However, the city decided that the time and money it would take to relocate individuals already living there would make the sale not worthwhile.

These progressive methods were developed in New York, San Francisco and Denver. Instead of simply arresting or hospitalizing people living on the street who have mental illnesses, are drunk or on drugs, and then releasing them a few hours, days, or weeks later, the HLP has begun making changes with
the root of these problems.
This new program is still under study
for its effectiveness.

On a late night in January 2007, 26 volunteers roamed every street and alleyway in Santa Monica to get an official count of the homeless persons in the area. A city report was released that showed an eight percent decline in people on the streets, bringing the number to 915. According to the LA Times, "City officials acknowledge
the number is unacceptable but say the
decline indicates the new philosophy
is working."

In fact the city is about to get an
award of $3.2 million from the Federal
Department of Housing and Urban
Development, to cover shelter and care
for the local homeless.