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The Plan to Help Venice's Homeless Residents

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More bathrooms, storage, and eventually housing could be on the way to the neighborhood

While Los Angeles's nearly-$2-billion plan to alleviate the city's homelessness crisis is still in the "finding funding" stages, one corner of the city is getting started on tackling the issue hyperlocally, with some of the first proposals covered under the plan. (This plan is not separate from the city's larger plan, as previously written.) A set of proposals from Venice by Councilmember Mike Bonin, who reps the area, would include free storage for homeless people's belongings, bathrooms that are open 24 hours, and new supportive housing on a city-owned site, the LA Times reports.

Bonin says that these measures together, which were introduced via four motions presented to the LA City Council, could help out homeless residents and curb the growing street encampments in the neighborhood. They are also part of 18 homelessness-related initiatives Bonin is pushing for in Venice.

The multi-pronged plan would see a city parking lot (the Pacific-Dell site) developed with housing for homeless residents, plus replacement public parking. Venice Beach public restrooms open round the clock (and additional portable toilets could be brought into the mix too).

Bonin's plan also calls for opening up a vacant senior center to be used as storage, bathroom facilities, and an access point for services via a case worker who'd have an office in the center. The costs of running the "access center" would be covered by funds that had been set aside for emergency shelters during the El Niño season (which ended up not being anywhere near as intense as originally predicted).

Advocates are excited by the fact that, if approved by the City Council, some elements of the plan (like the 24-hour bathrooms and the storage facility) could be up and running rather quickly. Some opponents of the storage plan are upset that the senior center, which is located in a residential part of town, is being used as a homeless access center; they believe homeless residents don't deserve to be in residential areas and should instead be sent to a location in a more "industrial" area.

Venice's large homeless population has been at the center of many debates in the neighborhood, including a recent lawsuit over LA's beach curfews. As Venice has become less funky and more monied, some say that conflicts with and complaints about the homeless have increased.