Santa Monica’s Strategy to Address Homelessness
March 30, 2022 10:35 AM
by Margaret Willis
This article was featured in the March 2022 edition of Seascape. Read the entire edition in English and Spanish.
Santa Monica has implemented a Four Pillar Strategy to address homelessness and prevent residents from becoming unhoused. Immediate and consistent engagement combined with services, treatment, and housing is core to our local strategy. This is how we are taking action:
1. Prevent housed Santa Monicans from becoming homeless and increase the supply of affordable housing
We understand the importance of both strategies and have multiple initiatives, including:
- Affordable Housing Production Program(s): We are working in tandem with Los Angeles County to increase affordable housing and require affordable units in new projects
- Eviction Moratorium: Santa Monica was one of the first cities in the nation to enact an eviction moratorium at the beginning of the pandemic so that people could remain safely at home
- Rental Assistance Programs: Supporting over 2,200 vulnerable Santa Monica families who were at risk of eviction
- Legal Services: The City Council has approved additional legal services for tenants who are at risk of eviction
- Preserving Our Diversity: Providing cash assistance to up to 400 low-income senior households
2. Address the behavioral health needs of vulnerable residents When considering the types of interventions needed to address homelessness, the need for physical and behavioral healthcare cannot be overlooked. Santa Monica focuses on serving the most vulnerable chronically homeless individuals, and we are developing a comprehensive behavioral health strategy so that more people can access healthcare when and where they need it. Recent efforts include:
- A Community Response Unit, which provides an alternative response to 9-1-1 calls to better address the needs of vulnerable populations.
- A Therapeutic Transport Van staffed with behavioral health professionals and people with lived experiences who offer supportive resources for non-violent mental health-related calls for service.
- Exploring New Funding Sources and Community Partnerships through the negotiation of land use and development agreements.
3. Maintain equitable access to safe, fun, and healthy open spaces
- We work with outreach and engagement resources/programs to ensure that our public spaces continue to be safe, clean, and enjoyable for all. We are continuously enhancing our approach to these initiatives and actively look for new ways to improve.
4. Strengthen regional capacity to address homelessness
- The City of Santa Monica works in tandem with Los Angeles County to coordinate our response to the issue of homelessness. We partner with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to provide Los Angeles’ Continuum of Care. LAHSA is the regional body responsible for coordinating outreach services, shelter, and housing services for people experiencing homelessness.
- In 2015, Los Angeles County voters approved Measure H, which is a quarter-cent tax increase to tackle the issue of homelessness. Measure H, coupled with Santa Monica’s City resources, is the foundation for providing a wide range of care, from basic outreach to specialized health treatments administered directly to people experiencing homelessness.
What is Measure H, and how does it help?
In 2015, the LA County Board of Supervisors established the Homeless initiative, which spearheaded efforts to pass Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax that directly benefits efforts to address homelessness throughout LA County. One of the 19 county-adopted strategies funded by Measure H is a set of coordinated initiatives and resources that provide outreach and services for people experiencing homelessness. For FY 21-22, the approved budget includes $39 million in funding for street-based outreach and engagement teams throughout the county, a portion of which is dedicated to Santa Monica. Measure H funding also funds supportive services, many of which are active throughout the Westside, including:
Homeless Prevention Program for Families and Individuals Provides rental assistance, case management, employment, and legal services to households to prevent them from becoming homeless.
Interim/Bridge Housing for Those Exiting Institutions Provides shelter and intensive supportive services to individuals exiting hospitals, jails, and other institutions.
Countywide Benefits Entitlement Services Teams Provides advocacy, case management, and linkage to healthcare, with the goal of increasing the income of disabled individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
L.A. County Department of Health Services - Housing for Health Provides intensive case management services and rental assistance to formerly homeless individuals in permanent supportive housing.
To stay informed, visit santamonica.gov/topic-explainers/homelessness
RESOURCES FOR SANTA MONICA RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES
Please contact the following services for various situations: