August 10, 2021 3:00 p.m.
by Margaret Willis
The city’s four pillar approach to tackling homelessness includes: preventing homelessness; respond to behavioral health needs; Get access to safe, fun and healthy open spaces; and plead for regional capacities. Here are the latest steps the City of Santa Monica has taken to advance these strategies:
Expand the range of supportive living space
The Santa Monica Housing Authority has received over 100 permanent rent grants for people affected by homelessness under the American Rescue Plan. These federally funded housing vouchers will help people move from local accommodation to an apartment. In addition, the office of Congressman Ted Lieu helped the city raise $ 2 million in federal funding to develop new affordable housing on city-owned land, including housing for people affected by homelessness.
Mental Health Department therapeutic transportation program
In line with the principles of public safety reform, the city will work with the LA County Department of Mental Health (DMH) this fiscal year to test an alternative deployment model for nonviolent mental health services. This means that a therapeutic van manned by behavioral health professionals and those with lived experience in mental crisis can be used for calls that could be better served through connections to supportive resources than through the criminal justice system, which offers a safer and more specialized response , and so first responders can focus on public safety priorities.
Multidisciplinary outreach team
Funding has been renewed for three multidisciplinary outreach teams to continue efforts in the areas of greatest concentration of the homeless in Santa Monica. Each street-based team is made up of mental health clinicians, addiction specialists, housing managers, licensed doctors, and a peer with lived homeless experience. The work of these street teams contributed to an 8% reduction in homelessness over the past year by providing support services and treatment for physical and behavioral health problems directly on the street to people who live on the street. Together, these teams contact over 1,400
People every year.
Santa Monica Fire Department Community Response Unit
The city council also approved the municipal council’s funding for the fire brigade. This unit assigns a paramedic and a paramedic to specifically respond to less urgent calls, e.g. The paramedic and emergency services would rule out acute medical conditions and connect people affected by homelessness to resources such as psychosocial support and substance abuse counseling.
Extension of the Reed Park Ambassador program
The budget also included dedicated ambassadors from Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. at Reed Park, who maintain the park toilets, answer questions for park guests, and provide recommendations for social services. This extra support keeps the toilets clean and usable for everyone, and provides extra eyes on the space to promote a safe and accessible parking experience. These local efforts complement regional efforts to tackle LA County’s homelessness with expanded coverage, housing and services while working to mitigate the effects of unprotected homelessness in Santa Monica. For more information on tackling homelessness in Santa Monica, visit weare.santamonica.gov/addressing-homelessness. Please visit Los Angeles for the latest information on LA County’s efforts
Homelessness Agency on lahsa.org.