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Santa Monica City Council Approves New Post of Senior Advisor on Homelessness


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

September 13, 2017 -- The Santa Monica City Council Tuesday approved the creation of a full-time senior advisor for homelessness, agreeing to allocate $320,159 over two years for the job.

Reacting to a 26 percent jump in the population of homeless people -- including a 40 percent jump in those living on the streets -- the council voted unanimously and without discussion for the position in City Manager Rick Cole’s office.

“While the regional homeless crisis can’t be ‘solved’ within our borders, our City is determined to invest additional local resources,” Cole said in a report to the council.

He said the City will “stand with neighboring communities and take a leadership role in regional solutions.”

Santa Monica’s homeless population this year reached 921 individuals, up from 728 people in 2016, according to the 2017 City count conducted in January.

The street count was 581, up from 416, or a 39 percent increase ("Santa Monica's Homeless Population Highest in a Decade," May 10, 2017).

Los Angeles County’s overall homeless population jumped almost as much, with a 24 percent hike to 57,794 people, of which about two-thirds, or 42,828, lived in the streets, encampments, in cars or in other public spaces.

In both the rest of the region and Santa Monica, beds in shelters and “emergency” motels were far below the soaring population of homeless people on the streets this year.

A hasty push at the ballot box has produced a marked increase in public money to help the homeless ("Santa Monica Voters Among Strongest Supporters of Measure H," March 10, 2017).

In March the County was granted an increase in the sales tax by voters (Measure H), which is expected to raise an estimated $355 million annually for outreach and services to help the homeless.

Voters in the City of Los Angeles also approved a bond to build 10,000 low-income apartments.

While Santa Monica officials view the homelessness problem as a regional issue, the City is focusing heavily on treatment and housing on the local front. Measure GSH, passed by city voters in November, includes the issue of more housing for the homeless.

The “Senior Advisor for Homelessness” will “focus exclusively on the issue” in all respects, from policy to finding resources and programs, Cole said in his report.

It will also “create new capacity for intergovernmental and community relations to better leverage and coordinate our partnerships with regional agencies, Los Angeles County and nearby cities, as well as enlist residents, businesses, civic organizations, houses of worship and local non-profits in collaborative action.”

The new position is for a two-year “limited-term basis,” through June of 2019, Cole’s report said.

“This position would be funded by the General Fund with an impact of $135,875 ($181,166 prorated to nine months for FY 2017-18) and $184,284 for FY 2018-19,” his report said.


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