Rules for Storage Bins Used to Store Homeless Possessions

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Photo taken downtown of  homeless bins by Rikha Sharma Rani.

There were 2,550 storage bins at Skid Row, according to a City News Service story in February 2020. And now there are 78 bins on two semi-flatbed trucks at the parking lot at Rose and the Venice Beach Boardwalk.

Circling the News visited the storage site on August 10 and inquired about the 60-gallon storage bins, which are being used to store personal property.

In order to get a Venice Beach Safe Storage bin, one must present a photo identification or a copy of a photo identification. It does not need to be state issued, and it can be expired.

The following items are not allowed in storage bins: food, drugs, drug paraphernalia, liquids, needles (unless disclosed and approved), pets (alive or deceased), organic material (including plants), weapons, sharp objects (knives and sharp tools), recyclables, illegal items and wet items.

Once you have given your ID, you will receive a bin ticket and you will be able to store items.

Most stories that have been written about bin storage say it is good because it allows the homeless to go on job interviews and doctor appointments without having to bring their stuff with them or worry that it will be stolen.

When registering for a bin, people must provide their name, a contact phone and contact email (if they have one.) They are asked if they have ever had a bin before. They are also asked if they live in the area or if they are traveling. They sign the form, present an ID and then are given a bin.

To access a bin, a bin ticket must be presented. In order to keep the bin, a “client” must visit the bin at least once a week.

CTN asked the attendant what happens if a person loses his or her  ID or bin ticket and is told he (or she) needs a photo ID. If someone finds a lost storage bin ticket, ID helps show proof. People cannot give their ticket to someone else and ask them to access their storage bin.

Clients are not allowed to change clothes by their bins and are asked to be respectful to Urban Alchemy staff. (Urban Alchemy, founded in 2018, is an homeless outreach company.)

When a person visits their bin, their ticket is stamped and each visit counts as a “one-week” renewal of services.

If a person does not visit the bin within a week, on the eighth day, it is “packed out.” That means property is removed from the bin, bagged and shelved (at a different location) and a person has 90 days to reclaim the property (at a site in Culver City off Jefferson).

After that time, it is discarded. If a person leaves a telephone number on the registration form, Urban Alchemy will try to reach the person before that happens. “This is a courtesy call and only one call will be made,” the safe storage contract notes.

Urban Alchemy was brought in on July 14 for a 30-day trial. They brought in 78 bins, but when CTN visited there were 34 bins still empty.

Generally, about five people visit a day and “some come up two to three times a day and want to look at their stuff,” the attendant told CTN. Someone is on site from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The staff said they had about 10 to 12 regulars at Venice.

What happens if you show up on the ninth day and want a new bin? According to the registration form, “If you would like another bin, you will have to wait seven days before you can re-register for a new bin.”

Circling the News would like to know how many bins are “packed out.” It could be an indicator if this particular system is working or if another one should be tried.

Two semi-truck flat bed trucks in Venice hold 78 bins for the homeless to put their belongings. About half were used when the story was done.

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2 Responses to Rules for Storage Bins Used to Store Homeless Possessions

  1. Eileen says:

    I don’t remember how big the LA Co Lot is at Rose and Venice Board Walk. Does the County continue to allow Beach parking there along with the bins?

  2. Sue says:

    Yes, the lot is large – and there were cars parked in that lot off Rose. It was also the site of an overdose on August 21.

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