Westchester Park Homeless Moving Indoors
November 4, 2021
Nearly three dozen homeless people have so far decided to move from their encampment in Westchester Park on Lincoln Boulevard to temporary housing, Los Angeles city officials announced this week.
“More than 30 residents of the park have moved indoors and into temporary housing and on a path to permanent housing,” tweeted LA City Councilman Mike Bonin on Tuesday, a day after implementing an “Encampments to Homes” effort in Westchester Park, which offers homeless people a pathway to permanent housing and appropriate services to help them succeed.
The effort, funded from the City of Los Angeles, is conducted by outreach teams from People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and Grassroots Neighbors.
It is modeled after the recent Encampments to Homes program in Venice Beach, which connected 213 people who were living on the beach and boardwalk with a pathway to permanent housing. To date, 49 of the people in the Venice program have moved into permanent housing, with another 122 remaining in interim housing, said Bonin.
The Westchester effort is designed to have a similar benefit of connecting unhoused individuals with housing while keeping public spaces clean and inviting for all to enjoy, said Bonin.
“We learned a lot with the success we saw in Venice,” said Bonin. “When you work with people and focus on creating suitable alternatives to encampments, then people come inside and everyone wins.”
Westchester Park has been the focus of local outreach organizations in recent months, and groups like Playa del Rey-based Grassroots Neighbors and PATH have helped connect 31 unhoused neighbors staying in the park with housing and resources, the councilman said.
“As a leading provider of housing and homeless services, PATH’s teams take a housing-focused, person-centered approach to outreach. We proudly participate in any outreach efforts that lead with services and housing opportunities,” said PATH Deputy CEO Jennifer Hark Dietz. “We look forward to building on our partnership with Councilmember Bonin’s office and continuing to provide trauma-informed services to as many unhoused residents as possible in Westchester Park.”
Similar to the Venice effort, homeless people in Westchester will first be offered opportunities to move into interim housing such as hotel and motel rooms so they have a place to stay while they are matched with a permanent housing solution. The initial phase of the effort is planned to be a four-week operation.
“It doesn’t solve anything to temporarily displace people, only for them to end up back out on the street,” said Bonin. “Until people are permanently and stably housed, we won’t be fully successful. Now that we have the resources available to create a pathway to permanent housing for people, we must act aggressively to get people housed and public spaces returned to full public use.”
Last month, the Los Angeles City Council approved $1.1 million to support the Encampment to Home program in Westchester Park.