Homelessness is a complex issue within our community and throughout the entire County of Los Angeles. While the City of Santa Monica is actively addressing the homeless crisis through programs, resources, and services for people experiencing homelessness, we are also working diligently to ensure that all of our residents and business community has the information and resources they need to conduct business and enjoy leisure activities. This website contains tips and advice on addressing more difficult situations, and provides resources and answers to some of your most frequently asked questions, while sharing ways that you can join the City in addressing homelessness within our community. Our resources are designed to help the Santa Monica community know what to do and how to make a difference when faced with the reality of homelessness in our City.
All About Affordability
Los Angeles County has become increasingly difficult to afford. With rising housing costs, people are spending more every month on rent and mortgage payments, and less on basic needs like food. Past surveys of Santa Monicans found:
- 1 in 4 Santa Monica residents say they worry about making their rent or mortgage payment every month
- 1 in 6 are worried about losing their job or not making their monthly credit card bill
- Close to half of Santa Monica households are low or moderate income and are burdened by housing costs, paying over 30% of their income on rent or mortgages
Living on a tight budget can make people anxious about unknown financial emergencies and makes even day-to-day expenses feel overwhelming. The City of Santa Monica is here to help our residents navigate through this important topic and connect to the right programs and services. Download the affordability toolkit for:
- A quick guide to tenants’ rights
- Learning how Santa Monica is making a difference in addressing community needs
- Knowing who to call if you or someone is at risk of being evicted
- Connecting to resources that can help you pay your rent
- Local service providers
- Services specific to seniors and differently-abled individuals
If you know someone who could also use the help, please pass this toolkit along.
Know What to Say
We often hear from both formerly-homeless individuals and experts on the issue how important it is to treat all people with respect, no matter their circumstance. Many people who live on the streets often feel inadequate or nonexistent to the rest of the world, but thoughtfully acknowledging and connecting with them can go a long way towards giving them hope.
- Make casual eye contact and say “good morning” or “hello”.
- If you have a minute, ask how they are doing and if they’d like to talk.
- If asked for money, you can decline or kindly refer them to St. Joseph Center’s Homeless Service Center (404 Hampton Drive, Venice) for food, shelter, housing referrals, and other resources.
- If the person is 12–25 years old, you can refer them to the Safe Place for Youth (340 Sunset Ave., Venice).
- If you want to provide immediate assistance, consider food gift cards or personal care items instead of cash.
- If you attempt to talk to them but they are unwelcoming or make you feel uncomfortable, walk away.
Watch this video for more.
Addressing Anti-Social Behaviors
While it is best to let professionals handle emergency situations, there may be times when you find yourself in a situation (for example, at your place of business) that will require you to take action to manage people’s behavior until first responders or other professionals can arrive. Here are some common dos and don’ts to help keep yourself and those around you safe:
Do keep a safe distance.
Do remain calm and speak directly and gently, repeating yourself as necessary.
Do feel free to direct the individual to helpful resources.
Do politely ask people to leave if they are disrupting your business.
Do call 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency.
Do feel free to go to a safe place if you feel in danger.
Don't ignore people.
Don't yell, display aggressive behavior, or try to intimidate the person.
Don't be disrespectful or condescending towards the individual.
Don't give the individual money – instead direct them to helpful resources.
Don't physically engage, such as grabbing the individual to escort them out.
Here are the best numbers that you can call in case you find yourself (or your business) in a difficult situation and need help.
Advocate for Change
Do you want to help make a difference with people experiencing homelessness in Santa Monica? Join the City in helping inform change and implement solutions.
Santa Monica City Council
City council meetings are happening regularly, and this is where Santa Monica residents have the chance to listen and provide feedback on how policies are being implemented.
The Santa Monica City Council is an elected group of people who discuss and decide on key issues for our City. They meet at 5:30 p.m. on the 2nd and 4th Tues. of each month, and hold additional special meetings as needed. Find out more at santamonica.gov/council or contact council members at email@example.com.
Are there issues within the community that you want to see changed? Contact your local representatives:
Congressman Ted Lieu
1645 Corinth Ave, Suite 101
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Senator Dianne Feinstein
11111 Santa Monica Blvd., #915
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Senator Alex Padilla
255 E. Temple St., Suite 1860
Los Angeles, CA 90012
State Senator Ben Allen
2512 Artesia Blvd., #320
Redondo Beach, CA 90278-3279
Assemblymember Richard Bloom, District 50
2800 28th St.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Contact the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors toll free by calling: (888) 807–2111
Volunteer & Donation Opportunities
Homelessness is an issue that affects everyone.
If you’d like to be a solution to the regional crisis, please consider volunteering or donating. Whether you’re a student, young professional, member of a family or faith group, or a retiree, there are volunteer and donation opportunities offered for everyone by community organizations that are working to positively impact homelessness in Santa Monica. Visit volunteermatch.org to learn how you can get involved.
Have you considered volunteering with one of our service providers?
Each organization below has a wide range of needs — from administrative support to preparing and handing out meals, to helping people prepare for a job, to assembling welcome home kits for those recently housed.
Back On My Feet - https://backonmyfeet.org/get-involved/
Revolutionizing the way our society approaches homelessness. Their unique running-based model demonstrates that if you first restore confidence, strength, and self-esteem, individuals are better equipped to tackle the road ahead and move toward jobs, homes, and new lives.
Chrysalis - https://www.changelives.org/volunteer/
Creating a pathway to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals by providing the resources and support needed to find and retain employment.
Clare | Matrix - https://www.clarematrix.org/support-us/volunteer/
Provides effective and affordable alcoholism, substance abuse, and behavioral health treatment and prevention services.
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services - https://didihirsch.org/get-involved/volunteer/
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services transforms lives by providing quality mental health and substance abuse services in communities where stigma or poverty limit access.
Disability Community Resource Center - https://www.dcrc.co/volunteer/
Connects people with disabilities to resources, training, and advocacy tools while promoting disability pride and building self-determined lives.
Families Give Back - https://www.familiesgiveback.org/volunteering-with-fgb
Offers volunteer opportunities for families with children from ages 6-16, enabling them to give back to their communities and instill the value and importance of service work in children.
The Giving Spirit - https://www.thegivingspirit.org/
The Giving Spirit provides aid and a human connection to homeless men, women, children, and families in Los Angeles. It also educates volunteers and communities about the human face of homelessness.
The People Concern - https://www.thepeopleconcern.org/volunteer/
Provides integrated services to the most vulnerable members of the community who are in need of assistance, including homeless individuals, survivors of domestic violence, challenged youth, and others who have nowhere else to turn.
Meals on Wheels West - https://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/americaletsdolunch
“Delivering More Than a Meal” to homebound seniors, veterans, the disabled, chronically ill, and newly-housed formerly homeless people of all ages.
New Directions for Veterans - https://ndvets.org/get-involved/
Empowers men and women who served in the military — and their families — to lead productive and fulfilling lives.
Safe Place for Youth - https://www.safeplaceforyouth.org/volunteer_opportunities
Inspiring, nurturing, and empowering the resilient human spirit of homeless youth by providing immediate and lasting solutions, one young person at a time.
The Salvation Army Santa Monica Corps - https://santamonica.salvationarmy.org/
Provides food, clothing, and hygiene for homeless individuals and families, as well as transitional housing for veterans and youth through case management and navigation to local and regional shelters, housing, and substance-abuse treatment.
The Santa Monica Adult Rehabilitation Center–Salvation Army -
Through holistic therapy, group, and individual counseling, life skill development, and spiritual direction, residents learn to abandon substance reliance. For over 100 years, The Salvation Army’s no-fee rehabilitation programs have provided emotional, spiritual, and social assistance to those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.
Step Up - https://www.stepup.org/volunteer/
Supports individuals with severe and persistent mental illness in developing opportunities to reintegrate into the community.
St. Joseph Center - https://stjosephctr.org/volunteer/
Provides working poor families, as well as homeless men, women, and children of all ages with the inner resources and tools to become productive, stable, and self-supporting members of the community.
Upward Bound House - https://www.upwardboundhouse.org/volunteer
Provides homeless families with housing and supportive services to suit their specific needs, including housing stability, healthy relationships, and emotional and financial well-being.
Venice Community Housing - https://www.vchcorp.org/volunteer/
Eliminates barriers that prevent low-income people from being successful, contributing citizens by reducing the number of homeless people on the street, investing in housing, training young people to be self-reliant, and building strategic partnerships.
Venice Family Clinic - https://venicefamilyclinic.org/get-involved/become-a-volunteer/
Provides quality primary health care to people in need.
Westside Family Health Center - https://www.wfhcenter.org/en/volunteer
Provides comprehensive, high-quality, cost-effective health care in an educational and supportive environment that empowers patients to take an assertive role in caring for their well-being through all stages of life.
Westside Food Bank - https://www.wsfb.org/take-action/
Provides food to social service agencies on the Westside of Los Angeles County, often enabling low-income people to stay in their homes and deterring the problem of homelessness.
WISE & Healthy Aging - https://www.wiseandhealthyaging.org/volunteer
Advances the dignity and quality of life of older adults through leadership, advocacy and high-quality, innovative services.
Giving money to a homeless person on the street can feel like an emotional tug-of-war. While the empathetic response may be to try to immediately alleviate their needs, there may be concern about perpetuating a painful cycle. While panhandling is not illegal, giving cash isn’t recommended, as it doesn’t encourage long-term relief or connection to services that can set individuals up for permanent housing and other solutions.
As an alternative to giving cash, we recommend donating to our local service providers. Your generous gift will provide access to vital resources to help homeless individuals get back on their feet. If you’d like to give directly to a homeless person rather than wait to donate to organizations, consider the following alternatives to cash donations:
- Ask what they need right now, such as personal care items or gift cards or food, and see if you can immediately provide that.
- Have personal care packages ready to hand out. Recommended items include: socks, hygiene items (toothbrush, soap, comb, etc.), snacks, and water.
- Hand out TAP cards to help homeless people get to their destination. You can buy and load TAP cards at. a nearby vendor, Metro Rail Stations, or online at taptogo.net.
- Provide care for homeless pets. Go to pawsla.org to donate toward food, vaccinations, crates and other essential needs of homeless pets.
Annual Homeless Count
Our Annual Homeless Count happens annually and we’re always looking for volunteers! Visit santamonica.gov/homelesscount for more information.
If you’re an employer, hire someone who is formerly homeless to jumpstart their transition to independence through employment.
If you’re a landlord, offer housing to a Santa Monica Housing Voucher holder. Contact the Santa Monica Housing Division at (310) 458-8743 or visit santamonica.gov/housing to ask about current incentives.
Are you a professional with a special skill set and are able to donate your time and services towards helping people experiencing homelessness? Some organizations, like Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Chrysalis, and Westside Family Health Center, need professionals like lawyers, writers, doctors, and nurses who can share their skills to help people get the support that they need to transition out of homelessness.