City Council Prioritizes Strategies to Address Homelessness

February 24, 2021 9:02 AM

At its annual study session on homelessness last night, the Santa Monica City Council provided input and prioritized strategies to build on Santa Monica’s four pillars to address homelessness with the goal to ensure public spaces are safe, clean, and healthy for all in the community to enjoy by delivering impactful services to people in need. Council continued the work of Santa Monica’s multi-disciplinary street outreach teams and Reed Park Ambassadors, and prioritized the expansion of rental assistance to prevent Santa Monicans from becoming homeless.

“Housing is a human right and it is unconscionable that Los Angeles County has as many people living without housing as the population of one of its smaller cities,” said Mayor Sue Himmelrich. “But we are determined to confront this human tragedy with effective and innovative solutions. The City Council is committed to ensuring safe public spaces and housing for all. We will continue our multi-disciplinary street teams and other proven strategies, while seeking state and federal funding to scale the dramatic change that is needed.”

In previous years, the meeting would have shared the results of the Homeless Count, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2021 count was canceled by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. While the last count in 2020 showed positive results including an 8% decrease in Santa Monica compared to a 13% increase countywide, COVID-19 has exacerbated Los Angeles County’s twin crises of housing and homelessness, and stymied interventions due to things like limited shelter capacity and an overburdened court system. It is in this context that the Council held its discussion. 

In addition to continuing the multi-disciplinary street teams and the Reed Park Ambassador program through June 2023, Council prioritized the following additional strategies for consideration during the forthcoming biennial budget process.

  1. Extended Emergency Rental Assistance to prevent residents from falling into homelessness.
  2. An alternative non-congregate shelter on City property.
  3. A behavioral health triage center.
  4. Low acuity crisis response unit in the Santa Monica Fire Department. 

City Council also affirmed Santa Monica’s four pillar approach to addressing homelessness: Prevent housed Santa Monicans from becoming homeless; address the behavioral health needs of vulnerable residents; advocate for regional capacity to address homelessness; and maintain access to safe, fun, and healthy open spaces. 

Last night’s detailed review of the City’s multi-departmental approach to addressing homelessness included the following metrics that provide local context to this regional crisis:

If you are interested in learning more about the City’s commitment to addressing homelessness and the impacts of COVID-19, read this recent blog post, watch the staff presentation at last night’s meeting, or visit



Media Contact

Constance Farrell
Communications & Public Information Manager


Housing and Human Services