Heilman Asks City Hall to Step Up Efforts to Address Poverty in West Hollywood

City Councilmember John Heilman is asking that West Hollywood consider stepping up its efforts to help poor residents.

Heilman is putting a proposal before the City Council on Monday that would direct City Hall staff to:

west hollywood city council
John Heilman

— Evaluate the city’s existing emergency rental assistance programs aimed at preventing eviction and return to City Council with recommendations for increasing the amount of money available if needed to meet the community’s needs.

— Present options for making the city’s bus pass program free for low-income residents. The city currently subsidizes Metro bus passes for eligible residents who are aged 62 and over or disabled. “Because the monthly cost of a bus pass is subsidized by the city, the cost to the participants is $8 for 30 days’ worth of fare or $96 annually for eligible residents. This is a $12 discount for the Senior and Disabled monthly pass, which is normally $20,” the memo states.

— Present options for enhancing the city’s nutrition programs for low-income residents, including senior meal sites and school lunch programs in the analysis. The city now provides meals to seniors at five separate locations. The city’s home-delivered meal programs provide meals for an average of 142 people a month. Some clients also receive supplemental nutrition and bags of groceries along with the meals.

—  Evaluate the city’s existing job placement and training programs and return with recommendations on enhancing those programs for low-income residents who are capable of working.

— Present options for further reducing the cost of pre-school for low-income residents. The city currently subsidizes pre-school or kindergarten expenses for 18 low-income residents. “Nine of those residents’ tuition is 100 percent subsidized, another nine pay an average of $202 per month,” the memo states.

— Present recommendations for establishing higher education savings accounts for low- and moderate-income residents with children. The memo notes that “Some cities have created a form of a trust account with the city depositing the first amount to encourage parents to open an account for their child’s education.”

— Research methods to reduce the cost of laundry in the city’s affordable housing buildings.

—  Survey a segment of our low-income residents to determine whether they are unbanked or underbanked or whether they are paying high fees for banking or check-cashing services.

— Continue to expand the community outreach regarding available resources and programs to ensure eligible residents are aware of and receiving services.

“The poverty reduction program (is) aimed to complement the services already offered by the city to provide participants with a comprehensive evaluation of their needs, connect them to available services, and determine long-term solutions for poverty reduction in West Hollywood. This item provides further direction to staff to help address poverty in our community.”

In an interview with WEHOville today, Heilman said that poverty is an issue that all of the City Council members are concerned about, with a particular concern about low-income residents living in rent-stabilized apartments who can be evicted if their landlords decide to take the apartment building off the rental market. The city currently gives such tenants priority in getting access to affordable housing units that it requires developers of new projects to build. Heilman noted that in the early days of cityhood, West Hollywood offered partial subsidies for various services. “Maybe because of our current financial situation, it makes sense to offer more support,” he said.

In a speech on May 15 when Heilman was inaugurated as the city’s then-mayor, he explained his focus on alleviating the impact of poverty on local residents.

“We’re a very affluent community,” he said. “We’re fortunate that we have thriving businesses and most of our residents are doing reasonably well. But about 15% of our population lives below the poverty line. That’s about 5,400 people in the city of West Hollywood. Many of them seniors, a significant number of them immigrants.

“We need to look at how we can ease the burden of poverty and, if possible, bring people out of poverty by looking at innovative programs. So, what I want us to do is target a small group of individuals and see what actually works, what assistance the city can provide that will assist those who are living on the edge in West Hollywood.”

The City Council will consider Heilman’s proposal at its meeting on Monday, which takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., south of Santa Monica Boulevard.  Parking is free in the five-story structure behind the Chambers with a ticket validated in the lobby.


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Budget Expenditures
Guest
Budget Expenditures

This is an excellent proposal.

Please someone advise why Amendment 2 on the Council Consent Calendar Agenda on Monday Evening provides for an increase of $45,000 for receptionist services at Plummer Park supplied by Jewish Family Services. The entire amount is not to exceed $136,000 in a contract ending June 30, 2020. Is this amount preferable to housing? Are there other such increases in the budget?

angry gay pope
Guest

John Heilman has been in this role since 1984! Could there be a more entrenched guy making money off big developers? And now he says “boo hoo for poor people.” I say “boo hoo for term limits!”

JF1
Guest
JF1

I’m sorry, where is your proof that he has made money off of developers. It’s real easy to throw an accusation out there while hiding behind your keyboard.

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest

I would be happy to connect the dots of his voting yes on development projects and his campaign donations for you.

Scott Sigman
Guest
Scott Sigman

Very Confused—Easier said then done. How many from Los Angeles and California. How many want help 33% usually. Didn’t City hall want to buy. thee PROPERTYwhich includes JOEYS CAFE, LAUNDRY, Crossroads and Theater? Will they be buying GELSONS? will City hall be buying the LOG CABIN on Robertson. Is there a very good plan to help homeless. we have helped 4 already and they have jobs. But no pyschological Problems. The Number of issues for each person can be great. Having found my sister with Hep C, Dementia. Parkinsons, Manic Depressive and Hears Voices. Trying to find a place fo… Read more »

Drew Pokorny
Guest
Drew Pokorny

This is why I support John Heilman. Let us use what’s STRONG about our little village to aid the weaker among us. West Hollywood should be a shining example of how we can thrive WHILE we set priorities to take care of our elderly (soon to be me!), our less finically secure, our homeless, our youth and our immigrant population. The LGBTQ community is not a monolith in our respective stations and statuses. Our strength comes from the open arms we spread wide to anyone looking for “home” both figuratively and literally. Bravo John Heilman (and others on the council… Read more »

Alan Strasburg
Guest
Alan Strasburg

Kudos to Mr. Heilman for taking the lead on this important quality of life issue affecting many people in our community. Let’s keep the primary focus on local issues, and quality of life issues. Bravo!

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest

Let’s see how his proposal has caused any change a year from now before we give him praise. I agree about keeping it local and taking care of Residents safety and quality of life issues first, but It has been talked about for 35 years and then fizzles out.

sag
Guest
sag

This is rich! Heilman, along with a handful of other council members, for decades, have sold out to the developers in the City. Now he wants to address the problem he helped create! There is a homeless, poverty problem in West Hollywood because countless tenants have been displaced, many with no where to go, because of the the handouts this City has given to the developers. All of the new high rise, high rent bldgs. and condos that are rampant in the City is perhaps the biggest contributor to the poverty/homeless problem which we are now experiencing. Affordable housing in… Read more »

Ben McCormick
Guest
Ben McCormick

Sag, regardless of what you think of John Heilman’s past focus and actions, at least he is now stepping up and trying to robustly and proactively address a critical issue facing many of WeHo’s residents. I just hope this is an honest attempt from an honest place, and not just an early campaign look-at-the-good-things-I-do-for-you stunt. I know Mr. Heilman and I believe him to be an honest politician who is trying to help, even though that largely is an oxymoron these days.

Josh Kurpies
Guest
Josh Kurpies

Let’s be clear about what the enemy is here (at least in large part) – it’s the implementation of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which removed vacancy control authority from the city and permanently exempted single family houses, condos and any multi-family unit built after 1979 in West Hollywood and the Ellis Act which has removed over 750 rent controlled units from West Hollywood. These two laws have resulted in higher rents across the City by incentivizing the demolition and redevelopment of the property to avoid rent control and charge luxury prices. If anyone is truly as passionate about the… Read more »

James Francis
Guest
James Francis

Heilman sees that there is an inconvenient truth that people that are well off and developers and many ambivalent residents don’t care as long as their housing is not impacted. More rent control units losing against market rate and more condos and temporary rentals going in place of rent control or affordable and dare there be section 8 which there is none for existing tenants to move or find if you are not 62 and over or in a category. Many residents struggling like me can’t afford increasing rents and landlords do what they want to do to price out… Read more »

mike d
Guest
mike d

I’m all for helping Seniors.

Joshua88
Guest
Joshua88

Nice to see somebody who is aware of the current situation and proposes some solutions. Our City has the means to do many good things, with the proper research of needs and application of laws/regs/initiative. Rent at its current and increasing rate isn’t tenable for many people, even under rent control. The weekly listings are unrealistic in most cases. Not in line with costs of living and earnings. I imagine City Hall should conduct surveys. Have no idea who designs the type we need. Residents need to convey their/our opinions & needs and they (TPTB) need to reach out to… Read more »

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest

city council raised the rent 3% last year. the highest in Weho’s history

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

In the rush to build the West Hollywood of the future, City Hall has forgotten the West Hollywood of the here and now. Low income tenants have been under siege, threatened with demolition on one hand and landlord harassment on the other. Sova Food Bank on LaBrea closed and my suggestion to re-open it at the former Aaron Brother’s site of our municipal parking garage was ignored. While we could have required the Arts Club to build some residential units, including affordable one our City leaders chose art programing. While I appreciate John Heilman’s focus on the issue of poverty… Read more »

Observer
Guest
Observer

The SOVA Food Bank moved to Pico near Robertson, I think

mike m
Guest
mike m

Yes it did.

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest

I’m very happy to see that Heilman is aware that there are Residents in West Hollywood who are living in poverty. His compassion for them is admirable and is apparent by his proposals. I hope the rest of the Council will agree with him. I also hope that the measures he proposes are put on a fast track. Poverty affects us all. How strong are we as a community if we can’t help the most vulnerable?