LA Councilmember Says He’ll Clear Venice Encampment With ‘Housing, Not Handcuffs’
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."
We are launching a major effort to address the homelessness crisis at Venice Beach, prioritize the urgent safety needs of the housed and the unhoused, and fully reopen the park and beach for general public use. How? We’re offering housing, not handcuffs. https://t.co/IMokCtGPt1 pic.twitter.com/43L262xnrl— Mike Bonin-Official (@MikeBoninLA) June 22, 2021
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.
Thank you, Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA), @VeniceUnited, @VeniceChamber, Venice Beach Merchants Association and residents of Venice for your support with our Humanitarian Effort to remedy the Homeless Crisis in our community. https://t.co/rN66XfqLHo pic.twitter.com/txztpaVBv9— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) June 15, 2021
In Bonin's announcement of the "Venice Beach Encampment to Home” project, he said of Sheriff Alex Villanueva's actions:
"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.