WeHo City Council to Focus on Homelessness on Monday

Homelessness will be the priority item on the West Hollywood City Council’s agenda on Monday.

At 7 p.m. the Council will have adjourned its regular meeting and will convene a study session to address the topic with 11 panelists, including city staffers and representatives from the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station and from non-profits providing homeless services to the city.

homelessness
Homeless person on Santa Monica Boulevard. (Photo by Jon Viscott)

The panelists are Jen Kim, regional planner, The Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office’s Homeless Initiative; Molly Rysman, housing and homeless deputy, in Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s office; Colleen Murphy, outreach coordinator for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA); Captain Sergio Aloma and Lt. Ed Ramirez of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station; Lt. Geoffrey Deedrick of the L.A. County Sheriff’s HOPE team; Shayla Meyers, an attorney with the Legal Aid Foundation; Tod Lipka, CEO of Step Up on Second; Natalie Komuro, CEO of Ascencia; Simon Costello, director of Children, Youth and Family Services at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Corri Planck, project manager for the City of West Hollywood Homeless Initiative.

The 2017 annual homeless count, which is conducted in January each year, identified roughly 55,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County. With the addition of Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach, which conduct their own homeless counts, the total is nearly 58,000.

That count included 105 homeless people in West Hollywood, a 30% increase from the 81 counted in 2016. That count is only a rough estimation of the number of homeless people, which tends to reach a high point in January according to a monthly count done by City Hall. That count showed 51 homeless people in January 2017, a number that fell to 17 in February and reached 37 in August.

Monthly homeless count in West Hollywood in 2017 (Source: City of West Hollywood)

The count also uses a conversion factor that may the number larger than the actual number of homeless people observed. For example, a makeshift shelter noted during the point-in-time count wouldn’t be tabulated as one person, but rather as 1.916 and a camper/RV would not be counted as one person, but rather as 2.050.

West Hollywood’s Homeless Initiative, led by Corri Planck, has taken a number of steps to deal with the homeless issue.

It launched a homeless outreach operation at the West Hollywood Library, linking community members in need to appropriate social services. It coordinated a vaccination clinic at Plummer Park with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health in response to the Hepatitis A outbreak among the homeless population. The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, working with the Sheriff’s Department’s Homeless, Outreach, Pro-Active, Engagement (HOPE) team, has interacted regularly with homeless people to encourage them to take advantage of addiction and mental health services and housing options. West Hollywood was recently awarded at $50,000 planning grant from Measure H funds and the United Way Home for Good Funders Collaborative to update its homeless plan.

The study session will take place at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. Parking is free with a validated ticket in the five-story parking structure behind the Chambers.