Sanitation workers were supported by Los Angeles police officers Friday to clean a portion of the Venice Boardwalk where a large homeless encampment developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the deadline for removing unhoused residents who will not accept housing has been extended an additional week.
The deadline to leave Zone 5, between Navy Street and Rose Avenue, was initially set for 7 a.m. Friday, and videos posted to Twitter showed officers arriving hours earlier.
Outreach teams with St. Joseph’s Center — which brought 104 people inside with a promise from the city of a pathway to permanent housing — requested more time to transition people into housing. The city extended the deadline for people to leave the zone to next Friday, when Zone 4, between Rose and Dudley avenues, will also be cleared.
“For the current zone, Zone 5, since it is one of our larger zones and tends to have more complex structures and personal belongings, St. Joe’s requested more time in that zone to help people sort their items and get them ready to transition to housing,” Bonin’s Deputy Chief of Staff David Graham-Caso told City News Service. He added that sanitation workers were conducting spot cleanups around the encampment and cleaning out belongings left by people who already accepted housing. KNX’s Craig Fieneger took video at the scene showing large belongings being thrown into garbage trucks, saying, “looks like more than a day job” and became “quite the spectacle.”
Bonin’s “Encampment to Home” program began on June 28. The program promises all residents who accept shelter a pathway to permanent housing in an effort to clear the Venice Boardwalk. Bonin said it may take time to place the unhoused Venice residents into the permanent housing options, particularly through the voucher program, as the city must identify willing landlords and available units.
In the interim, temporary housing has been given, including up to six months of motel placements, which is the most commonly requested form of temporary housing, Bonin said.
Zone 3, between Dudley and Sunset avenues, will be cleared by July 23, while Zone 2, between Sunset and Park avenues, will be cleared by July 30.
The program’s partners include People Assisting the Homeless, Safe Place for Youth, Venice Family Clinic, Self Help and Recovery Exchange and CLARE Matrix. Participating government agencies include the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the Public Health, Mental Health and Recreation & Parks departments, and the Bureau of Sanitation.
Outcry about the homelessness crisis in the area has been a factor in a recall effort begun against Bonin last month. The councilman contrasted his voluntary approach and offer of permanent housing for area’s homeless population to that taken by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who sent deputies to Venice in June in an effort to clear the encampments. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, officers present on Friday were supporting the Bureau of Sanitation’s efforts, not conducting outreach or enforcement.