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Housing and Homelessness

LA Councilmember Says He’ll Clear Venice Encampment With ‘Housing, Not Handcuffs’

Tarps cover makeshift housing in Venice with litter in the dusty road
People protest Los Angeles City Council member and mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino as he speaks during an event to announce his "Plan For A Safer Los Angeles" at Venice Beach on June 7, 2021
(PATRICK T. FALLON
/
AFP via Getty Images)
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L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin announced a new program on Tuesday aimed at finding more permanent housing for unhoused residents living along the Venice boardwalk.

Starting next week, outreach teams from the non-profit St. Joseph Center will fan out to offer services to the approximately 200 individuals living in those encampments.

Bonin tweeted about the effort Tuesday morning, saying, "We're offering housing, not handcuffs."

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A person plays a musical instrument near an encampment at Venice Beach.
A homeless encampment. near Venice Beach photographed June 7, 2021.
(PATRICK T. FALLON
/
AFP via Getty Images)

Earlier this month, L.A. County Sheriff's deputies and outreach teams showed up to try to clear the boardwalk, a move Bonin criticized as "disruptive to outreach efforts."

The sheriff's department says it has found housing for six people. For his part, Sheriff Alex Villanueva has said that politicians effectively "handcuffed" the LAPD when it comes to dealing with encampments, leaving him no choice but to intervene.

In Bonin's announcement of the "Venice Beach Encampment to Home” project, he said of Sheriff Alex Villanueva's actions:

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"The sheriff’s rhetoric and approach are damaging, as is the criminalization of homelessness. It leads to re-traumatization, breaks crucial connections with service providers, creates barriers to housing and employment, locks people further into homelessness or poverty, and can lead to displacement into neighboring areas. That’s why our effort leads with housing, and not with handcuffs."

The L.A. City Council will weigh how to fund Bonin’s program during its Wednesday meeting.

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