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New Venice Elite Waging All-Out Class War on Homeless People

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Venice's rich recent gentrifiers are not very good at sharing their public spaces or playing nice with their fellow citizens, specifically the ones who happen to not have permanent homes. In December, a homeless man was brutally beaten on the boardwalk in an unprovoked attack, but that's just the most horrifying extreme in a relatively new Venetian attitude toward homeless people (who have historically found haven in the neighborhood). Venice has become a microcosm of the US in its extreme inequality: homelessness is up, but meanwhile "property values [are] on the rise" and all kinds of new tech companies, which pay extraordinarily high wages, are moving in. And the new rich kids in town are big babies, "quick to call police about things the old guard would have shrugged off, locals say," according to the LA Times. A senior lead LAPD officers for the area estimates that 75 percent of the complaints she handles are about homeless people. Recently, a homeless man named Brian Connolly bought food at the Starbucks at Navy and Main, but was told he'd have to eat it outside; he wrote last month that the incident has a creepy segregation feel to it: Starbucks will take his money, but they don't want him hanging around. Sensitive home-having residents complain simultaneously about stuff on the sidewalk and about a shipping container at Windward Circle brought in to store belongings for homeless people; in a nasty move, someone added extra locks to the container so that the Department of Rec and Parks had to get a bolt-cutter to get things back to their homeless owners.

Even the LAPD seems sick of cracking down on people just because they have nowhere to live: "Sometimes I wish I had crime that was more police-related," Sergeant Theresa Skinner tells the Times. She adds "We'll never make enough arrests or write enough tickets to get rid of homelessness." Almost as if arrests and tickets don't actually get rid of homelessness at all. The area's city councilmember, Mike Bonin, says he wants more housing and services, but federal Housing and Urban Development vouchers are frozen and the city just isn't set up to fix such a structural problem: "Looking to the city to solve homelessness is like asking your plumber to rewire your house."
· Venice's famed tolerance is being tested by the homeless [LAT]