The Mayor’s new housing plan has on it 2,200 units developed for homeless people with special needs in five years (with conditions, of course). The low number estimate of homeless people is about 35,000 in the city of L A and 73,000 in LA County and the vast majority of them have special needs. These are seniors, disabled people, abused women, veterans, and most homeless people in LA are people of color. So – according to the Mayor’s plan – in five years some of these people might survive to get housed and a bunch of them will die, get so sick they will be housed in not so nice nursing homes until they die, be jailed and criminalized, and be tortured on the street by ongoing law enforcement and hateful fearful housed people.
Hate for homeless people is on the rise. Check with the Southern Poverty Law Center. Hate is spread through speech and the language of the mission for the new Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) committee on homelessness is very problematic. It appears punitive, blaming and it is not neutral. Also, the diversity of the committee is very problematic. Most members are white homeowners. Both chairs are white males. There is no one living in a vehicle, homeless, or previously homeless on the committee as a voting member. In fact, half the committee is of the mind that homeless people living in Venice should be sent somewhere away from the “good” housed people.
I understand that the best solution is affordable and assisted housing. I know that many Venice people do care, but I am not sure how the caring members of this new VNC committee can continue in good faith without addressing these issues:
1. Amend mission to be language and action neutral (I sent a possible amendment)
2. Include voting members who are living in a vehicle or living homeless and who are able to participate. Currently there is no representation.
3. Address ways that we can help those who may never ever get housed before they die (see Mayor’s housing plan!) by finding ways to decriminalize homelessness, get emergency supplies for the winter (blankets, tarps), and teach tolerance regarding poverty and homelessness to people now being filled with fear and hate.
Peggy Lee Kennedy,
Venice Food Not Bombs and Venice Justice Committee