Housing was a topic that came up over and over again, in almost every aspect that could be considered, at the Culver City Council meeting of June 26, 2023. The Update on the Homeless Emergency included a focus on the Mobile Crisis Unit, both the Project Homekey Hotels and the Safe Sleep site. Many people spoke from the podium in regard to the CCRentals.org project online, promoting and objecting, and a long time member of the Committee on Homelessness was the only incumbent not re-appointed to serve another term.
Tevis Barnes, the Director of Housing for Culver City, noted that both the Safe Sleep location on Virginia Avenue and the Project Homekey Hotels on Sepulveda Boulevard are projected to be open in mid-July. “We are currently housing 26 people who are waiting for placement at these locations.”
Arames White-Shearin, Assistant to the City Manager on Homelessness gave a report on the Mobile Crisis Team with a power point presentation. “The dispatch will be located at Fire Station One, with three workstations. The vehicle, a Ford Transit Cargo Van, is being retrofitted [for support systems such as] a roof mounted fan and a wheelchair lift.” Staff will be trained during the time that the van is being equipped. “Two case managers, one mental health clinician, one mental health specialist…will be training in July.”
Barnes addressed the question of how to best help a homeless person in crisis. “Many people are dissatisfied with the 211 [regional hotline] and we prefer that they call the Culver City Homeless Hotline at (310) 253-6767. It helps if you can be a specific as possible about the exact location of the person, and what they look like; clothing, hair color…every detail you can report is helpful.”
During the time for comments on items not on the agenda, Osa Griffin, who identified himself as someone on a fixed income, said that rent control measures had been a huge success, and cited the need for continued support for low income renters.
Stephen Jones, the creator of the CCRentals.org site, offered that “the interactive map…gives the rent history that has always been available to landlords, and gives this information to renters…I’m hoping that this tool can help shift, even a little, the information asymmetry that leads to higher rents.”
The premier of the CCRentals.org site brought in some landlords, speaking from the podium, who were not happy that the information on the history of rentals was being shared. One example was Melissa Stucky, who stated that “Mr. Jones is just trying to create more division in our community,” and resented that the information from the city was available on a non-city site.
Later in the meeting, while most appointments to boards, committees and commissions were approved with little discussion, Bubba Fish, who spent the last two years as the Vice Chair of the Committee on Homelessness, was not re-appointed. When asked why he did not support the anti-camping ordinance that the council passed in January of this year, Fish offered “It’s no secret. I was opposed to the ordinance, I didn’t feel it was evidence based. And I do think it’s important to be able to have a back-and-forth, with the council, and I thank you for the opportunity to do so.”
The council, seemingly less interested in dialogue than unquestioning support, did not approve him for another term on the committee.