By DAYNA DRUM | Reporter
The Marquez Charter Elementary School auditorium was filled with about 70 people on Tuesday night, Oct. 27 for the latest meeting of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH).
The evening began with an overview from PPTFH Chair Maryam Zar followed by an update from fundraising chair Barbara Overland. The PPTFH, in collaboration with Ocean Park Community Center (OPCC), is raising funds to employ a two-person team to work with homeless in the area.
PPTFH is aiming to raise $125,000 by Dec. 15 in order to fund the full-time professionals for one year.
“Once this is accomplished, we will celebrate,” Overland said.
Overland announced that as of that night, $102,000 had been raised. The “outreach team” will engage homeless individuals, respond to conflicts and train community volunteers. Improvement is expected within the first year of the program, beginning in January 2016, Overland said.
Following the update, Los Angeles Times reporter Gale Holland gave attendees statistics about homelessness and a rundown of how other cities are responding to the issue. Holland also discussed Los Angeles’ pledge of $100 million to finding solutions to the problem.
While Holland assured the audience that the pledge appeared to be real, she said temporary solutions wouldn’t work.
“We can’t wait, there’s too many people on the street,” she said.
LAPD Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore took over after Holland to explain LAPD’s role with the homeless. Moore explained that homelessness is not against the law, and law enforcement is only one part of the solution.
“It’s about getting them to agree to get off the street,” Moore said.
Finding a crime is a thin line, Moore explained. Residents should avoid calling LAPD to report a homeless encampment simply because it is there, since that alone is not illegal.
In addition, if a resident sees something suspicious involving a homeless individual and calls LAPD, he or she should avoid specifying it’s a homeless individual committing the act, Moore advised. This is because of the delicate situation surrounding homelessness.
To close the meeting, Councilmember Mike Bonin discussed the city’s past failings in dealing with homelessness. One of the mistakes he mentioned is the focus placed only on chronic homelessness, and as a result episodic homelessness has been forgotten. Bonin then answered questions about members of the homeless community who might not want help.
“There are a lot of people who are service reluctant, not service resistant,” Bonin said. “There are some shelter rules that deter people from wanting to seek their help, such as couples not being allowed to stay together or pets being taken away from their owner. Changing these rules is the first step to making shelters more inviting. It has to be all-hands on deck.”
For information or to donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/Palisadeshomeless.
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