Mayor Karen Bass and Councilwoman Traci Park were in Venice to visit the encampments that surround the A Bridge Home (ABH) site, at Sunset and Pacific Avenue.
ABH was designed to give the homeless a safe place to sleep, while waiting for permanent housing. When the ABH was implemented in February 2020, Venice residents were told it would be temporary, that no additional tents would be allowed on the streets between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. and the area would be a Special Enforcement and Cleaning Zone.
Instead, Councilman Mike Bonin’s and Mayor Eric Garcetti’s promises were not kept, and the area became known as “Methlehem” because of the crime and rampant drug use. Encampments sprang up around the ABH and extended several blocks.
“There is no law and order, and no one will help us,” one resident told CTN.
Today was more hopeful.
Park said, “During my campaign, I pledged to pursue a comprehensive approach to working with service providers and city leaders to compassionately get encampments like those surrounding the bridge home the support they need.
“Putting people in rooms without the care they need doesn’t work,” Park said. “We need to ensure that they have adequate access to services including mental health, trauma and substance-use services.”
“I’m proud to be locking arms with Councilwoman Park to change the way we approach homelessness in Los Angeles to bring people inside,” Bass said. “Councilwoman Park and I spent yesterday morning conducting outreach with encampment residents and meeting with service providers and local residents. It’s important that the policy solutions developed are informed by the people most directly affected.”
Community members say that Bass and Park are taking the first steps towards keeping promises that were made when the Venice Bridge Home opened.
The Mayor’s new program, Inside Safe, is a housing based program that will assess street homelessness across Los Angeles and proactively engage with people living in tents and encampments based on which locations are most chronic.
The strategy is to bring people inside from tents and encampments for good, and to prevent encampments from returning. While Park and Bass were in Venice, there were commitments from people to come off the street.
Now, “to know that something is finally happening is pretty amazing,” said Chef Jason Neroni, owner of Rose Venice on Hampton Avenue.
“It may be impossible to fully understand the depths of despair and trauma associated with long-term encampments unless you’re living in them as an unhoused person or living beside them as a housed neighbor,” said Venice resident Connie Brooks. “Watching fellow humans disintegrating before your eyes nearly every single day for years– while rarely being able to get them help– is indelibly scarring to everyone involved.”
INSIDE SAFE HAS FIVE GOALS:
- Reduce the loss of life on our streets
- Increase access to mental health and substance abuse treatment for those living in encampments
- Eliminate street encampments
- Promote long-term housing stability for people experiencing homelessness
- Enhance the safety and hygiene of neighborhoods for all residents, businesses, and neighbors
Read the Inside Safe Executive Directive here.