Jul 28, 2014

PPCC Discusses Homelessness in the Palisades

The Community Council considers a range of ideas on how to address the issue of homeless people living in the Palisades.

PPCC Discusses Homelessness in the Palisades

The Pacific Palisades Community Council heard presentations at a Jan. 26 meeting from officials, activists and residents on ways to address homelessness in the community.

Flora Gil Krisiloff, senior field deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, described efforts to transition long-time homeless people into permanent housing and provided notable statistics: 51,000 homeless people live in the county, 33 percent suffer from mental health disorders, 24 percent are chronically homeless, 18 percent are veterans, 9 percent are women and another 9 percent are under age 18.

Jeremy Sidell from the organization People Assisting The Homeless, or PATH, also noted the pressing need for permanent housing.

"There's simply not enough shelter beds to shelter all those people," he said.

After the meeting segment on homelessness, attendees who gathered outside the 's conference room shared thoughts on the issue with Patch.

"The idea of trying to do some outreach and getting some research done, finding out something about the reality of what's going on, I think that was good stuff," said Father Liam Kidney of . "Let's find out what the reality is, and can we reach out to some of these people that are really hurting?"

Kurt Park, operations manager for private security service echoed concerns raised by residents during the meeting of transient, sometimes criminally inclined homeless people in the community.

"Every day we're having problems with the homeless," Park said. "There's a lot of homeless who've had a rough time and we understand that, but the criminal element that most people don't want to talk about at these meetings is something they're trying sweep under the rug. And again, we're getting those calls."

Park said Palisades Patrol averages one call a day involving a homeless person for offenses such as routing through people's trash, sleeping in backyards, approaching children, as well as one recent case involving a homeless man with a machete.

"If you can think of it it's happened," Park said. "The transient population is unbelievably high, everyday we're finding new ones. They are very hostile, there's mental illness, of course we understand that, but when they're felons, they're felons."

LAPD Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore estimated 20 homeless people live regularly in the Palisades, mostly in the beach areas.

PPCC President Janet Turner suggested forming a small committee to spearhead efforts to deal with homelessness in the community.

"There are some ways to take baby steps, even with perhaps getting a couple of case management people here once a week to work with Michael Moore so that they can offer services to those who are found," Turner said.

Palisades resident Pat Johnson agreed locals should band together to help the homeless.

"If we can develop a coalition here that is skilled enough to interact with the homeless and help guide them into one facility, two facilities, we're talking maybe about a goal of five or 10 people," she said. "Are they open to it? We don't know that yet."

Michelle O'Neill, a Palisades business owner, took a more aggressive stance.

"I don't agree with starting slowly, I agree with diving in," O'Neill said. She offered several suggestions such as partnering with local churches and synagogues to offer the homeless a place to sleep one night per week and partnering with organizations like PATH to provide food, shelter and hygiene services at the grassroots level.

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