"It's worse than it ever was": Venice Beach residents rebel against the intensification of the homelessness crisis • Swing Update


While soaring housing prices have caused an explosion of economic inequality, California is grappling with a growing homelessness crisis, with the number of newly-hit homeless having doubled since the financial crisis. And while not all homeless people live in a camp on Skid Row, the growing scourge of these camps has led the city of Los Angeles at the end of last year to double the amount of its credits for services responding to the needs of the homeless population nuisances such as discarded syringes and human excrement have caused a quality of life crisis in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Venice Beach.


An article published in the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter is interested in more and more significant fallout to Venice Beach following the city's proposal to build a new homeless shelter over an old-fashioned subway station. More and more, the battle around three shelters that it is proposed to build in the area – which, unsurprisingly, is cited by no inhabitant of the city living near the station – has highlighted the chasm separating liberal Californian politics from their economic and social interests. personal safety.

Because when a shelter for homelessness goes up, everyone in the neighborhood suddenly becomes conservative.


Some even ask the police to crack down on homeless encampments in the area, as incidents of violent crime and small thefts occur more frequently.

Residents who live near the camps say the mail is gone regularly. Burglaries have jumped. Hypodermic needles and human waste appear on sidewalks and in local playgrounds. The inhabitants complained to the police about harassment and even physical attacks. "It's more a criminal problem than a homelessness problem," said a resident living next to the so-called Frederick Camp, adjacent to the Penmar Golf Course.

Residents have even opposed a local Democratic legislator who supports the construction of the shelter and who rejects the idea of ​​any link between homeless camps and soaring crime.

"There are crime problems in Venice" says Mike Bonin, whose District 11 council includes Venice Beach. Bonin has been heavily criticized for his treatment of the homelessness crisis by Venezuelan residents dissatisfied with his support for a move to introduce a massive $ 5 million transitional housing project in their city. At the same time, Bonin said, "I can not accept the idea that there is an inextricable link between crime and homelessness." That's wrong, the data does not back it up not and this leads to bad policy. "

Increasingly, the residents of Venice Beach are divided by the problem of homelessness and how to respond to the growth of homeless camps.

Disagreements over the potential causes of the crimes began to split the neighborhoods of Venice. "It was six months of terror, of absolute terror" says radiologist Maria Altavilla, who lives east of Venice. She says the period of heightened health and safety concerns has coincided with the expansion of homeless camps over the past year. She recently arrived home with her two children to find a woman shooting in her yard. Recently, her husband expressed the desire to move because of her frustration with the camps. Several residents shared an unconfirmed theory – suggested by a local police officer – that some attackers were using the NextDoor social media app to monitor residents who expressed the most about their opposition to the encampments and then targeted these individuals for retribution purposes.

A resident explained that the tires of his Range Rover had been cut six times in the space of several months, forcing him to install a gear to protect them.


Whenever he leaves home with his family, in a neighborhood where Hollywood stars reside, he is increasingly paranoid with the idea of ​​being robbed.

"It may have been random, but it was sure to feel focused and focused" said Osborn, who now protects his tires every night with a plywood and chain device rigged by a jury that has up to now deterred the assailants. Whenever he takes his family out of the city, he fears that his house will be stolen. "It's not a very fun way to live," he says. A large number of residents 15 blocks from Osborn, just east of Lincoln Boulevard – where actor Viggo Mortensen owns a house and where director Jon Favreau opens a production office – tell similar stories. And although they can not say for sure, Osborn and others suspect that the crime is linked to several homeless camps that have emerged in the past 15 months. "

In some areas, locals even unite to collect pavement pavements in homeless camps.

As the problem worsens, homeowners unite to try to retrieve pavement pavements to deter future encampments. At the corner of Millwood Avenue and Lincoln, large wood planters now encircle much of the sidewalk. These planters mysteriously appeared two months ago in front of a Staples office supply store, which was once a popular resting place for a few tent dwellers. The same pattern can be observed on another block, further south on Palms Boulevard, where similar metal planters have recently appeared.

One resident said that sometimes one feels that the neighborhood is "a step away from" vigilantism in the manner of Guardian Angels.

On the Boulevard de Venise, in front of the Vice Media offices, a fence was erected to prevent the tents from climbing. Residents around the Penmar Golf Course have started a GoFundMe Page and have reached their goal of raising $ 80,000 to fill a pedestrian trail with native plants and landscaping – a project called Frederick Avenue Pass but whose true goal is to dissuade the big camp inflated there.

"Honestly, I think we are a step and a half away from vigilantism," says a talent manager who has been living in the region for two decades. "I have the impression that this is heading towards a guardian-type angels situation that you saw in New York in the 1970s. Someone will come out with a lead pipe and give somebody a hand. It's a horrible thing to say, but I do not see what's preventing that from happening. "

And as a recent court decision forced the LAPD to stop imposing a ban on sleeping on the sidewalks until a sufficient number of low-income and housing-oriented housing could be built, locals claim that the tension with the homeless community has only intensified.

"It's worse than it has ever been," Tami Pardee, the best real estate broker in Venice, moved to the area in 1993. "But sometimes this has to happen for a real movement to begin." Mark Kitching, of Compass, explains that over the past year, four buyers he worked with have decided to no longer buy after bad meetings with homeless residents during their tour in the area. "Palisades look much more attractive when you think about school and cleanliness," he says.

Tensions were exacerbated during a public meeting with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Bonin, where residents pitched songs of anger and asked if the three homeless housing projects currently underway in Venice Beach would be tantamount to forcing the region to assume an unfair burden of homelessness.

Things reached a boiling point at a lively town hall in October, when locals had the opportunity to express their intentions regarding the city's project. open a 154-bed transitional shelter ("bridge") to be built on a former Sunset subway bus park. and Pacific avenues (the plan was approved by City Council in December). During the four-hour meeting, Bonin and Mayor Eric Garcetti were the target of angry chants and tirades aimed at determining whether he was asking Venice to unfairly shoulder the burden of the population of without shelter of Westside. Bonin said that he was in the obligation to place the bridge of his district in Venice, because it is there that the problem is most obvious (each district must open a bridge shelter under of a directive of the town hall). Opponents of the shelter claim that the site is too close to schools and residences.

"We have a homeless problem that needs to be solved" says screenwriter and resident of Venice Michael Lerner. "But the proposed solutions are those" pie-in-the-sky "ideas that do not make economic sense – if you're talking about providing shelter for tens of thousands of homeless people, but your solutions are costing you $ 500. 000 dollars per unit, you're not going to shelter a lot of people. "

The result of this is that, as the city allocates more resources to solve the growing problem of homelessness, the problems seem to become more and more difficult to solve.

And more compassionate Californian liberals are increasingly using the chorus: not in my backyard!