In partnership with the City of Los Angeles and Council District 11, and with the support of the Venice Family Clinic, Occupy Venice and other Venice residents, Venice Community Housing has launched a pilot program to store the personal property of homeless people who wish to go to the City's winter shelter in West LA but have too many belongings to take with them to the facility.
The program, called Check-In Storage Venice, began on Saturday January 26th and will end on March 1 when the Winter Shelter program ends.
The Winter Shelter, located at the West LA National Guard Armory, accommodates up to 160 people and provides guests with a hot meal, showers and bedding, as well as on-site case managers to connect guests with housing and social services. The shelter takes no walk-ins, only people who come by bus operated by the shelter operator, First to Serve.
Shelter guests are allowed to bring with them only personal property they can carry on their laps on the bus. Because of this limitation, many people who would like to go to the shelter are not able to because they would be forced to leave their personal property unattended.
According to Kirk Tyler, supervisor of the Shelter program, there is room for another 25-30 people at the Armory every night, and First to Serve doesn't want any bed to go unused.
To assist the Check-In Storage program, The City has provided VCH with a 10'x30' storage container which has been placed next to the Police Substation on Venice Beach close by the shelter bus pick up point at Market and the Ocean Front Walk, along with 25 new rollaway trash bins to be assigned for safe storage.
VCH will open the locked storage container daily for two hours between 3 and 5 p.m. to allow people the opportunity to check in and check out property from their assigned bins.
"This has been a miserable winter so far, with a lot of rain and temperatures dropping into the 30s on many nights," said Steve Clare, Executive Director of VCH.
"We hope this program will allow more people to get off the ground and out of the cold, at least until March 1st."
"Although Check-In Storage is a narrowly focused pilot project, we intend to build on this experience and work toward creating a year-round voluntary storage program for unhoused residents of our community" said Clare.
Such a program already operates successfully downtown in Skid Row and in other nearby cities. The LA Times recently reported on a storage program in Costa Mesa that, although initially met with resistance, now has wide spread support. A link to that article can be found here.
VCH appreciates and thanks the Venice Neighborhood Council for its support. Special thanks are due to City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who championed the program all the way and made it happen.
If you are interested in volunteering at the Storage program the next volunteer training session will take place Thursday, January 31st at 7 p.m. Contact Volunteer Coordinator Barbara Milliken to RSVP and for more details.