West Hollywood’s Homeless Count Surged by 31% Over the Number Last Year

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

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s on-street survey conducted Jan. 22-24 shows 131 homeless people were identified in West Hollywood, a 31% increase over the 100 homeless people counted in 2018.

That compares to a 12% increase in all of Los Angeles County, where 58,936 homeless people were identified. That count doesn’t include Glendale, Long Beach and Pasadena, which do not participate in the annual countywide survey but conduct their own count.

The point-in-time survey identified 100 homeless people in West Hollywood in 2018 and 105 in 2017, a number that has grown substantially since 2015, when it totaled 54 people.

The January count found 111 homeless people living on the streets. Another 12 were living in cars or vans or campers, and eight were living in tents or other makeshift spaces. The count doesn’t include homeless people who might be sleeping on the couches of friends or acquaintances.

The City of West Hollywood has created a homelessness initiative to deal with the growing issue. That initiative includes outreach teams with Sheriff’s deputies and people who can help address mental health and substance abuse issues. The outreach teams offer access to shelter, substance abuse treatment, health care, mental health services, and housing opportunities. They also provide assistance such as food and hygiene kits, as well as blankets, socks, and other emergency supplies.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Mental Evaluation Team has housed some of its staff members at the West Hollywood Station. That makes it easier for Sheriff’s deputies to effectively respond to an issue involving a homeless person who apparently is mentally ill.

In January, the city announced that it was the recipient of $300,000 in Measure H funding for a study of city-owned and alternative sites for bridge and permanent housing. Measure H raised the county sales tax by .5% to provide services and programs to help the homeless.

Currently, homeless local residents who seek city help are placed in temporary housing operated by city contractors such as Ascencia and Step Up on Second, which offer multiple services. Ascenia has housed 50 formerly homeless people from West Hollywood and Step Up on Second has housed 28. They include chronically homeless people suffering from severe and persistent mental illness, which make the barriers and challenges in bringing people into service and housing even greater.  Tarzana Treatment Center has provided drug and alcohol detox services and shelter to 22 homeless West Hollywood residents. McIntyre House has assisted 35. NCJW/LA and the Alliance for Health & Healing have assisted residents having difficult paying their rent.

However, some homeless people have declined such assistance because it would house them far outside the City of West Hollywood in cities such as Glendale and Tarzana.

Residents who are concerned about a person who is homeless are asked to the West Hollywood Homeless Initiative Concern Line at (323) 848-6590. If your concern requires time-sensitive assistance during nights or weekends, call the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station at (310) 855-8850. For additional information, please visit www.weho.org/homeless.


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We Don't Care
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We Don't Care

If one looks beneath the surface, beyond the PR it is easy to see a poor quality of life. We have a broken windows concept hatching beyond nooks and crannies throughout 1.9 sq. miles, infecting each and every neighborhood. Without the usual distractions, walk around various neighborhoods and actually look at the visible lack of responsibility in keeping up one’s premises. There are exceptions but beautiful properties or beautifully kept properties are in the distinct minority. People are not taking pride. The sheer optics of filthy sidewalks says: WE DON’T CARE, WE WELCOME LITTER AND MORE! That should be the… Read more »

Ham
Guest
Ham

the mid west looks more appealing each day. The house next door to me was broken into the other day in West Hollywood West. There’s also a small grassy area at the end of our street….were homeless people have installed tents and live there. Unreal that this is going on here. This is a very poor quality of life here.

Blueeyedboy
Guest
Blueeyedboy

The problem is not a lack of housing; it’s a 100% combination of severe mental illness and substance addiction. The federal government has no jurisdiction over mental health, so it falls on the individual states, and all of this state’s policies have failed. California has erred on the side of civil rights and misguided compassion toward the mentally ill and homeless. We need to expand the definition of “gravely disabled” and conservatorship which was diluted by Prop. 47 before we can get a grip on caring for the homeless. They won’t accept any kind of assistance offered to them, no… Read more »

Ham
Guest
Ham

agreed. well put.

Blueeyedboy
Guest
Blueeyedboy

I should have said something about Prop. 47. It passed in 2014 and it reduces penalties on certain crimes, which makes it harder to get the homeless off the streets and into treatment.

Henry (Hank) Scott
Admin

Actually, that is an often-repeated and erroneous claim used to explain an apparent decline in arrests for drug possession. Under Prop. 47, a law enforcement officer who sees someone possessing or using an illegal drug can arrest him, but on a misdemeanor charge, not a felony charge. Someone arrested and convicted on a misdemeanor charge can be sentenced to up to 365 days in county jail and fined up to $10,000. So why doesn’t this happen more often? One theory is that judges don’t want to send people convicted on a misdemeanor charge to the already overcrowded and notoriously badly… Read more »

Blueeyedboy
Guest
Blueeyedboy

As I understand it, Hank, the definition of “gravely mentally disabled” was tightened in Prop. 47 making it more difficult to apply to someone who is in that state, and the rules for conservatorship were much more restrictive, which, again, leaves those who might intervene on behalf of the mentally ill with fewer options to help them.

Henry (Hank) Scott
Admin

Yes “Gravely mentally disabled” is not considered a crime and one can’t be arrested for that. However, your local Sheriff’s Station’s MET team can take a mentally disturbed person engaged in illegal activity in for treatment.

Gabe
Guest
Gabe

Absolutely. What happens when we have overly liberal people running the show (gasp I’m a moderate liberal). I have a homeless cousin with schizophrenia that the state refuses to allow my aunt and uncle to get a conservatorship role in his life to get him back on his medicine. The state would rather him roam the streets and do as he pleases than get on medicine. Law enforcement uses a cloak of, “It isn’t a crime to be homeless,” while refusing to do anything. Meanwhile, residents paying $2000-$10000 per month to live here get to live with them. I really… Read more »

jimmy palmieri
Guest
jimmy palmieri

and comically….none of you came to speak at the human services commission to speak on these topics as we went through the funding process for the last 3 months.

Nate
Guest
Nate

Unfortunately, a lot of us have jobs that aren’t 9-5s.

jimmy palmieri
Guest
jimmy palmieri

staff is available all day for questions/comments on these topics if you work evenings. council and depts. have emails listed on city website should you ever decide to take a look.

Santa Monica Addressing Homelessness
Guest
Santa Monica Addressing Homelessness

Not comical, but if you felt this was such a pressing issue that needed the community attention somehow it could have been publicized via special alert beyond the WeHo Community Calendar. Not everyone has their eye on every commission agenda.

jimmy palmieri
Guest
jimmy palmieri

any and all city meetings are publicly posted . also very easy to find on the city website, where you can also find the dozens of providers dealing with these topics in a legal and humane way.

Santa Monica Addressing Homelessness
Guest
Santa Monica Addressing Homelessness

Since this is a special area of interest to you, if might be helpful to take the lead, perhaps write an Opinion piece that Wehoville could print. Many realize the city meetings are posted, but your emphasis could be decidedly more helpful. It is “making” the connection that is so important with folks that have eyes and ears in their neighborhoods and getting additional folks involved on both sides. The city website is more opaque that you might think.

Santa Monica Addressing Homelessness
Guest
Santa Monica Addressing Homelessness

How does West Hollywood compare to Santa Monica in addressing Homelessness?

http://www.weare.santamonica.gov/addressing-homelessness

West Hollywood had a chance to nip this in the bud given our relatively small size and abundant resources. As Ross Perot once said: “If you see a snake, kill it. Don’t appoint a committee to study it.” Swift action when a problem surfaces is always preferable to dealing with the eventual, exponential proportions.

Andrea
Guest
Andrea

I’m a relatively short middle-aged women. I’ve been assaulted by street people 5 times in the past 2 years on Santa Monica Blvd in the afternoon. They choose me because I’m a small woman. The other day, a man pushed me up against the wall in an attempt to get money out of me. I see many of these people at the Wells Fargo atm on Santa Monica Blvd, so some have money or are receiving government payments of some type. Those for whom living on the street is a “life style choice” do such a disservice to people who… Read more »

Michael Grace
Guest
Michael Grace

Take all the religious outlets (churches, mosques, temples, et al) and force them to house the homeless. After all, some are housing illegal immigrants.

The Sky God believers and their leaders (the Bible, Torah & Koran thumpers) operate without paying any taxes.
The non-believers shouldn’t be subsidizing this RIC aka Religious Industrial Complex.

Most of the houses of “worship” are empty all week. So make them take in the homeless or have their charity tax scam changed.

Gimmeabreak
Guest
Gimmeabreak

Religious institutions do the bulk, by far, of charity all across the world, and certainly in the U.S., Michael Grace. You are assuming that if those buildings are opened up, the homeless will use them. Most will not. And those who do will leave it unfit for use for its intended purpose.

Santa Monica Addressing Homelessness
Guest
Santa Monica Addressing Homelessness

They may indeed, do what you said however, there are extraordinary times and limited provisions that are controllable could be initiated at least in our immediate community. Temporary room, board and required community service tasks by those that are able and not apparently mentally compromised. These venues could be hands on by connecting mentally compromised folks to the correct facilities.

Johnjx on Hancock
Guest
Johnjx on Hancock

Perhaps we could convert the $16 million automated parking garage next to City Hall into a homeless shelter.

RSB
Guest
RSB

Or convert the Bus Depot on Santa Monica Blvd? or Wing?

Steve
Guest
Steve

Like any population, not all “homeless” are the same, yet we keep trying to come up with a single solution without considering the different goals of the population. The real crisis is with the mentally ill/drug addicted individuals who have lost the ability to make reasonable decisions regarding their own self-care (“gravely disabled” is the clinical term) and truly need some form of hospitalization, medication, and treatment so they can stabilize. These are not individuals who are going to suddenly be okay just because they find housing – they are often a danger to themselves and to others and this… Read more »

Blueeyedboy
Guest
Blueeyedboy

Steve, Gov. Pat Brown, at the end of his last term in office, thought it was a violation of the civil rights of the mentally ill that they be housed where they were cared for and medicated so they were functioning citizens, many of whom being able to leave during the day and live somewhat normal lives. So it was enacted into law that those state-run facilities be closed and the mentally ill be released. It was required by law, then, that the new incoming Gov. Reagan follow through with the existing new law passed by the assembly that he… Read more »

Alison
Guest
Alison

We have some incompassionate people in our City. And, some who will criticize the City and call them liars no matter what.

JF1
Guest
JF1

The compassion of the residents of our neighborhoods/city/state is running thin when we see the same individuals strung out on drugs and doing nothing to better their situation day after day, week after week, year after year. Then there are the mentally ill, we need to get them into facilities. Allowing them to live on the street in squalor is doing nothing to help them or our communities. We need to change the laws. This is NOT a housing crisis no matter what these self serving reports say. What we are doing is NOT working. When something isn’t working, you… Read more »

Gimmeabreak
Guest
Gimmeabreak

JF1, I was composing a comment on this topic, but then I saw yours. You said it better than I was about to.

Has it occurred to anyone that a lot of the homeless are homeless by choice? They wouldn’t take housing if you gave it to them.

JF1
Guest
JF1

Thanks Gimmeabreak. Some people just don’t want to believe that is the case.

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest
Eric Jon Schmidt

It’s called truth to power. I would never accuse anyone of lying or anything else unless I can prove it.

Gimmeabreak
Guest
Gimmeabreak

Alison, compassion without logic is useless and accomplishes nothing more than makes you feel good about yourself; because you “care”, and you did something. Compassion that works isn’t always warm and fuzzy. Sometimes it looks tough and unkind.

JF1
Guest
JF1

Exactly Gimmeabreak. Perfectly said.

Andrea
Guest
Andrea

For the mentally ill, choosing to live on the street is a consequence of refusing to take the medication that will in most cases cure them of most of the issues that prevent them from holding a job.

Allowing and even encouraging these people to live on the streets is a crime against all of the citizens of West Hollywood, particularly the women and children just trying to walk down the street without being harassed and frightened.

For those homeless that have been offered housing in Glendale or Tarzana and refused, a jail cell in West Hollywood should be the alternative.

JF1
Guest
JF1

EXACTLY.

Observer
Guest
Observer

A jail cell in West Hollywood? How incredibly compassionate.

Bill
Guest
Bill

It is high time for West Hollywood and adjacent cities to place a strict moratorium on the construction of luxury housing. Every single new mid to large luxury project I have seen across urban Los Angeles County has no more than 30% occupancy. There must be incentives given to developers to construct affordable housing options that must be legally kept affordable or this problem will increase by several orders of magnitude. In the interim, no person should be allowed to sleep in the street without prompt city intervention, or arrested and put in jail if they refuse assistance.

Alison
Guest
Alison

Where do you get the 30% occupancy statistic? If that is true, I find that very interesting, but I don’t believe that is accurate.

Joshua88
Guest
Joshua88

Why do developers need incentives to develop? It’s a cash business, as it is.

Luxury housing must include affordable housing. I think the City should stop letting the businesses donate to the fund and make everybody offer the units regardless.

Good question from Alison below.

JF1
Guest
JF1

Do you honestly think – looking at the homeless just in West Hollywood – that they’re looking for an affordable home? They’re drug addicts and the mentally ill. When I can’t afford to live somewhere, I move. This situation is not about lack of affordable housing. This situation is about drugs & alcohol abuse and mental illness. To believe otherwise (and allowing the situation) is what’s fueling this ever exploding rise in bodies laying in squalor all over our city/state. Time for rude awakening.

JF1
Guest
JF1

If developers couldn’t sell the condos they are building and apartments didn’t rent, they wouldn’t build. If they can’t get a return on their investment, they wouldn’t do it. They’re selling and renting and they will continue to do so as long as people are buying/renting.

Oversold
Guest
Oversold

They can’t sell and they can’t rent so they are relying on this extended stay, illegal airbnb and other configurations to cover their investments.
THE CITY IS OVERSOLD. The folks supposedly running the city have their eyes on what could be rather than what it is and are not serving its residents.