'Encampments to Homes' Program Helps Westchester Park Homeless Move Indoors

Fifty-six homeless people living at Westchester Park have moved indoors in the past three weeks and are on a path to permanent housing, Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin announced this week.

The park residents participated in Bonin’s “Encampments to Homes” program, which offers homeless people a pathway to permanent housing and appropriate services to help them succeed.

Bonin said that an additional 31 homeless people from Westchester Park were brought indoors in August and September through efforts of People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and Grass Roots Neighbors and Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell.

The “Encampment to Homes” program in Westchester began on November 1. It is modeled after the Venice Beach effort, 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.

"Leading with housing, services and consistent outreach is the best and most successful way to end homelessness, and that's what we're doing at Westchester Park," Bonin said. "Everybody wins when we help people move indoors, instead of wasting resources on failed strategies that push people from neighborhood to neighborhood."

Bonin said fewer than a dozen tents remain in the park, and outreach workers continue to place remaining residents into interim housing and then match them with long-term housing vouchers.

"The reduction of tents and encampments in the park as nearly 90 people have moved indoors is the result of consistent, dedicated, sincere and relationship-based outreach by service providers equipped with what's needed -- both interim and long-term housing resources," Bonin said.

However, Bonin added, “We are far from finished. This program does not end until everyone who was living in the park gets to come indoors. And we will not declare success until we have helped them find permanent housing. Taking a tent down doesn’t end homelessness. Housing does.”

The Westchester Park effort, funded by the City of Los Angeles, is conducted by outreach teams from PATH, LAHSA and Grassroots Neighbors.


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