During the heavy rains and cold temperatures that produced more than 5 inches of rain in Pacific Palisades last Wednesday and Thursday, those living outside fought for survival.
On December 31, a man was saved on Will Rogers beach, near lifeguard headquarters, and transported to a local hospital.
Sharon Kilbride, co-president of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, told CTN that she found the man on the beach. “He was in bad shape. I contacted lifeguards to assist, and they transported him in the back of the truck to headquarters. LAFD Station 69 paramedics transported him to the hospital. I think we saved a life today.”
Kilbride, who lives in Santa Monica Canyon, knows many of those who move through this area because members of the PPTFH contact transients who are new to the area and offer assistance.
CTN asked Kilbride if she knew the man. She said that he had been in the area for a few weeks, and that during the pouring rain on Wednesday, she had given him a poncho and hand warmers. Although he was willing to go, the winter shelters in L.A. were at capacity.
Annually, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) operates a winter shelter program that generally runs from December 1 through March. These emergency shelters provide a warm place to sleep, food and assistance. Although L.A. County has an estimated 66,000-plus homeless, there are only 315 shelter beds at 11 locations and zero shelters on the Westside.
“This is totally unacceptable during the cold rainy winter months,” Kilbride said. “These poor folks had to make do on the streets during the storm.”
She noted that there is “so much money is thrown at homelessness and no winter shelters.”
In order to get into a shelter, one must first call to check on availability. If there’s a bed, the homeless person must find a way to get to the site: several are downtown and others are in Pacoima, San Pedro and Long Beach. The LAHSAwebsite notes: “This year, transportation is limited. Please refer to our Winter Shelter Program Flyers (English | Spanish) for sites that offer transportation.”
LAHSA is responsible for setting up winter shelters. The organization was created in 1993 and is under L.A. County and City jurisdiction. Its mission is to allocate more than $70 million in Federal, State and City funding for programs to provide shelter and housing for the homeless. A 10-member commission (half appointed by the City and half by the County) is supposed to oversee LAHSA. To view the salaries that LAHSA, see table below—or click here.
LAHSA’s chief financial officer makes $282,759 (including total pay and benefits), and even the communications director is paid $142,811.
It appears that while this bureaucracy provides six-figure salaries for its top 34 people, including executive director Heidi Marston ($260,304), providing winter shelters and more than 315 beds is not a top priority.
One would hope L.A. City or the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors or the Commission that oversees LAHSA would ask for more winter shelters.
Instead, on December 21, the Supervisors voted to begin an effort to combat loneliness. The board called for a preliminary report on how County departments and agencies should work with other public, private and faith-based organizations to develop a plan to combat the effects of social isolation.
This is a nice gesture, but CTN believes there is nothing lonelier than dying alone on the beach after having no place to go.