“Before I go to bed, I check for outreach requests. When I wake up, I check for outreach requests. [When there is a request] I tell the homeless coordinator, and they get that to the St. Joseph’s team. They provide us with [information through the day] so that we know where they are, and who they are making contact with.” Tevis Barnes, Culver City’s Housing Administrator, was candid about how pressing the challenge is to maintain outreach services, and why the city’s contract with St. Joseph’s Center was qualitatively different than the County services from Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
‘If someone calls,” Barnes continued as a part of her report to the council, “and asks for someone to come out, I know the public expresses their concern because they expect someone to be there in five minutes, but they are usually engaged with another homeless person, and they have to finish that [interaction] before they can get there, and sometimes that person has already gone.”
The City Council voted unanimously to renew the contract with St. Joseph’s Center at the April 25, 2022 meeting, after a discussion on costs and concerns.
“When we would [try to access LAHSA] they would come to Culver City once a month. They might return our calls.” Barnes observed that the need for services was far greater than the county response. Her report emphasized how contracting with St. Joseph’s for support services has made a qualitative difference in how Culver City addresses homeless people in crisis.
“In order for us to understand the needs of the folks we are trying to serve, we need to have folks in the trenches. The outreach team is down in the creek – literally, they are behind dumpsters, they are under the 405… If it were just myself and the homeless coordinator, we would not have to the ability to do that outreach.”
Mayor Daniel Lee agreed that what the county was providing was insufficient. “Prior iterations of the council have made this a priority… [homelessness] is a moving target, and it’s gotten worse. We can’t just rely on what the county is obligated to provide.”
Barnes also noted that it would be helpful in the bigger picture, noting that “St. Joesph will play a critical role with out Homekey project, helping us to determine [critical need.]”