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A Crowded Boardwalk Prompts City to Start Emergency Shelter Program for Venice's Homeless Early

Councilman Rosendahl appeals to the county's Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to start the a program similar to the winter shelter program in October this year, after residents and homeless advocates note more people than ever are sleeping on the b

Councilman Bill Rosendahl made a heartfelt and ultimately successful bid Tuesday for the county to start an overnight shelter program for the Venice's homeless population early this year.

Residents and business people, as well as homeless advocates, have been alarmed by a growing number of people sleeping on the boardwalk this fall.

The annual winter shelter program, which buses homeless people from the boardwalk to shelters in West L.A. or Culver City, begins Dec. 1, but Rosendahl has secured $110,000 in city funds to start a temporary emergency shelter program this month. The temporary program will work the same way the winter shelter program works, and will run through Nov. 30.

At a Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) meeting on Tuesday, the commission of the city/county organization voted 9-0 vote (with one abstention) to enter into a contract with First to Serve that would begin as soon as Oct. 15.

But the vote was hard won.

"[Councilman] Rosendahl was amazing. He fought all the way," said Brad Neal, a Venice resident and property owner who is co-chairing the Venice Neighborhood Council's Emergency Safety and Shelter Program and attended the LAHSA commission meeting.

Neal said that initially three LAHSA commissioners were going to abstain, despite the fact that the funding is coming from the city and that everyone who spoke at the meeting – residents and homeless advocates alike – were in favor of the plan.

"It really was Bill Rosendahl, in my opinion," Neal said. "He held his ground."

City Council must now approve the funding, $90,000 of which will come from the city's community development grants, and another $20,000 of which will be transfered from the Roadmap to Housing program. The council is expected to vote Tuesday.

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Correction: An earlier version of this article refered to the temporary program as an extension of the winter shelter program. Although the two programs will run the same way and will provide continuous shelter through March 15, they are, in fact, different programs.

catman October 07, 2011 at 01:41 PM
A shelter with 50 beds is not going to get around the Jones settlement when you consider that there are probably 5 times that amount of homeless people sleeping on OFW every night. And thats just OFW. Those numbers don't include all of the others who camp every night in other parts of Venice. While any shelter is better than no shelter, the fact is if the LAPD starts ticketing or arresting those who either don't want to go to the shelter or for whom there is no room at the shelter there will most assuredly be another lawsuit filed by the ACLU. And just like the last lawsuit they filed the homeless will be the winners and the City of Los Angeles will be the big loser.

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