By TRILBY BERESFORD | Reporter
One of the many striking features about Michael Day is his bubbliness, which he maintained while describing the time when he was abandoned by his travel partner from Hawaii and forced to live in a tent on Will Rogers State Beach.
In order to complete his media degree at the Los Angeles Film School, Day commuted to Hollywood every morning on the bus.
“If it wasn’t for the people in Pacific Palisades, I wouldn’t have graduated,” Day confessed during a recent Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness community meeting.
“I landed on the right beach,” he continued. “I think my grandmother guided me there.”
Day was engaged by outreach worker Glanda Sherman in January 2016 and spent a period in the Turning Point Housing program in Santa Monica—where he set up his bunk as a makeshift recording studio—before entering permanent supportive housing in July 2016.
With a toothy grin, Day expressed his gratitude for the PPTFH team, emphasizing how they provided hot showers, laundry services and bus tickets to get to school.
Sherman described Day as, “funny, witty and entertaining.”
An equally exuberant character fulfilled the next spot on the panel: Jill Kline, a former construction worker who knows her way around heavy machinery.
Homeless for 10 years—six of those spent in Pacific Palisades with her boyfriend—she was engaged by PPTFH in February 2016 and housed in November that same year.
“It took a long time for Maureen to drag me off the beach,” Kline admitted, adding that accepting help meant leaving her boyfriend, whom she never saw again.
“My first night [at Turning Point], I slept on the floor because I wasn’t used to the bed,” Kline recalled. She signed the contract to her Koreatown apartment sight unseen. When she did finally see it, she said her reaction was, “Is this all mine?”
Having acclimated to indoor living, Kline now prefers climbing out of a bed instead of a sleeping bag and having a stove to cook her meals.
“I am so grateful,” she said.
Sherman described Kline as a “kind-hearted and loyal person who makes a delicious pot of stew,” adding that she did a “fantastic job” when she came into the shelter.
The third speaker was Marina Henderson (whom readers met in the Aug. 9 edition of the Palisadian-Post), who lived in her car on PCH with her three pre-teen children.
“I always tried to make it comfortable for the kids,” Henderson said. “Even though we were going through something difficult, we got to see something beautiful every day,” she continued, referring to the breathtaking ocean view.
Henderson recalled one evening when she was feeling particularly “broken,” and LAPD Officer John “Rusty” Redican pulled up behind her car and wrote her a parking ticket. He then posed a question: “Do you really want to get off the street?”
When Henderson gave a resounding “yes,” Redican gave her a phone number and instructed her to call it tomorrow. If she did, he would rip up the ticket.
Henderson and her children were engaged with PPTFH and St. Joseph Center in March 2017 and housed in June 2018.
“This task force works because your hearts are in it,” Henderson told the crowd, right before she casually performed a Christian hymn as the room fell silent.
Finally, Sherman said, “All three of these clients took a leap of faith when they allowed us to be of service to them.”
She went on to demystify the process of finding housing, explaining that it all starts with engagement on the street. The team then assesses each individual for their needs, which can vary dramatically from person to person.
“We ask one question: Are you interested in housing?” If so, the challenge comes down to finding a landlord willing to accept Section 8 vouchers.
Once the voucher is allocated, it expires in 90 days—so the housing search must be diligent. Other challenges include obtaining identification cards for the homeless and linking them to mental health representatives.
Housing locator Jaime Gallardo explained that once the clients are in their apartment, the new challenge becomes getting them acclimated to being housed.
“Some of them have been on the street for 20 years, they aren’t used to paying electric bills.”
One audience member inquired as to why some of the homeless community decline help, to which Officer Redican, always on hand at these meetings, provided his perspective.
“A lot of these folks have been hurt so many times that they don’t believe this could ever come to fruition,” he said simply, adding that mental health and addiction issues are often involved.
PPTFH Vice President Sharon Browning asked the panel of special guests what they would do for the homeless if they were elected mayor.
“Housing first,” Day said with clarity. “Housing first before rehab or anything else. It gives people a sense of pride and paints a bigger picture for them.”
Kline described a building that was going to be turned into a homeless shelter in Koreatown and the neighbors who fiercely petitioned against it. As mayor, Kline would encourage others to expand their view of the homeless population.
Henderson envisioned families living in supportive and collaborative communities. Pausing to consider what services were most helpful during her transition, she captured the very essence of PPTFH.
“Persistence,” Henderson said. “LA is so big, we forget about each other sometimes. But working together builds strength and confidence in people.”