by Garth Meyer
With progress being made in reducing homelessness in Redondo Beach, City Attorney Mike Webb is asking for three items in the city’s next budget to continue the work.
Webb and staff members made a May 10 presentation to city council ahead of the June budget talks.
Recommendations were to hire a full-time mental health clinician, create an education campaign focused on another way to support beggars, and add a part-time employee to find and manage the hiring of more housing units in which the city could place people.
Updating the advice, Webb said 71 people have gone through homeless court this year; 26 people have found permanent accommodation from the pallet shelter and the 15 units of the shelter are still occupied.
A waiting list fluctuated from five people to 20.
Lila Omura, the city’s new homeless housing navigator, has helped 10 people, not necessarily part of the pallet shelter, to be ‘permanently housed’ – qualifying for a voucher from the section 8 capping rent at 30% of their income. New buildings have been constructed for this federal program, such as a 100-unit complex in Inglewood.
Five other people in Redondo Beach this year have been placed in “crisis housing” – for those in particular need of medical help. One was a paralyzed man often at the front of Rite Aid on the Pacific Coast Highway, across from the city’s main library.
“These type of individuals are my heart,” Omura told the council.
In addition to the Galleria Pallet Shelter, the city is renting five apartments in Wilmington, totaling 20 beds to provide for the homeless.
The requested education campaign would discourage begging by creating a targeted relief fund.
“The people of Redondo Beach are very generous — but sometimes that generosity encourages people to continue living on the streets,” Webb said.
He spoke of beggars at a transit drop off by Ralphs at 182nd & Hawthorne.
“(Omura) has encountered individuals with far more money on them than all six of us put together,” Webb told the five-member city council.
The operation of the program is as follows; if someone knows a beggar or homeless person in a certain location, they can donate to the fund for that specific individual.
“Designated for that person at that location, and we’ll respond,” Webb said.
If the subject refuses the aid, the city withholds the money for another receptive homeless person.
The fund, originally launched with $20,000 the city received from a nuisance property lawsuit earlier this year, received an additional $2,000 in a collection during the Easter service at Veterans Park.
Webb’s main request is to hire a mental health clinician to help when a case doesn’t reach the level of a 72-hour wait.
If the board approves such a hire, the city attorney hopes it will be someone like Omura, who started in January.
“I can’t promise the next employee will have been described as an angel,” he said.
Councilman Nils Nehrenheim asked if it was possible to involve the Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) in this file.
“We bear all these costs on our own and it is a regional problem,” he said.
Webb responded that Nehrenheim’s concern about ongoing cost is valid, but BCHD does not have the mental health professionals for the job.
“We want to be in control,” Webb said, explaining that the homeless court results, in particular, could attract more county and state funding.
“When we first reached out, it was just an idea,” he said. “Everyone wants to get behind something that works well.”
The pallet shelters were mentioned on a recent episode of CBS’s “NCIS: Los Angeles,” with a police officer telling a man under a pier that she “just learned of an opening at the pallet shelter in Redondo.” .
Webb noted the creative license — there were no openings (without being on the waitlist).
Council voted 5-0 to receive and table the report before budget discussions.
“I think we’re making a huge difference in the city for homeless people,” said Joy Abaquin Ford, the city’s quality of life attorney.
Councilwoman Laura Emdee later pointed out that one of the keys to the broader homelessness crisis was a 2018 federal decision on a lawsuit known as Martin v. Boise, brought by a group of six homeless people. shelter in Boise, Idaho in 2009. The ruling ruled that a city could not enforce anti-camping laws without being able to offer a bed in return.
“We can’t enforce our laws in Redondo Beach until we can provide beds,” Emdee said.
The decision was made by the US Circuit Court of Appeals, Ninth District, which encompasses Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii.
As of now, Redondo Beach’s 15 pallet shelters are limited to one person due to the pandemic.
Omura noted that the benefit of having the city’s own mental health professional is that you don’t have to wait for the county because cases can be backed up.
“Sometimes it takes weeks for a clinician to come to Redondo,” she said. Emergency room