“All of the people who have put in so much time and effort on this, everyone on staff, can be very pleased with what we have here.” Mayor Albert Vera, Jr.
On July 26, 2023, Culver City’s ‘Safe Sleep’ site opened for a formal preview, with speeches and presentations, and community applause. In the next few weeks, the site will be fully operation under the management of Urban Alchemy, a nonprofit organization that the city has contracted with for staffing and support services.
The idea of a ‘safe sleep’ site was originally proposed to the City Council by the Housing and Homelessness Committee in 2021, and of the original four possible locations, including the Jefferson Boulevard Transit Yard and the upper field at Culver City/Bill Botts Park, the Virginia Ave. site was deemed to be the one that met the most criteria.
The program began with a few words from Tevis Barnes, the city’s Director of Housing and Human Services, who offered “This is a project were are proud of, and very happy to see it open.” She was followed by Mayor Vera, and Council member Dan O’Brien. Presentations were made by Congresswoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove’s District Director Johanna Rodriguez, and Congressman Ted Lieu’s representative Karen Calderon, both applauding the city for the work. State Senator Lola Smallwood-Cuevas was represented by Elizabeth Birks, who joked that the accommodations were so nice, “I have four male room mates…this looks like an improvement on my living situation.”
O’Brien was both pleased and relieved that the day had arrived. “We have put a lot of time and attention into getting this done, getting all the details together; now, it’s just a matter of getting people in here. Of course, this isn’t anyone’s final answer, but we hope it’s a step up and a step forward.”
The site has 20 ‘transitional suites’ – platforms with large tent structures, furniture and flooring. A fence surrounds the area, and Urban Alchemy will be on site around the clock to provide personal support with a focus on conflict resolution. The people living there will also be given three meals a day, onsite showers, weekly laundry access, and availability of medical care and mental health support. Pets are welcome, and space has been created for a dog area.
“It’s not a complete solution, but it’s an important step in a critical direction,” Vera noted. “Getting people the support they need is what makes the difference.”
Staff offered a tour of the site to all interested parties, showing the suites, the office, and the utilities that will be available to the residents.
The Project Homekey Hotels, the city/c0unty projects for both transitional housing and permanent supportive housing, were also scheduled to open this month, but are still on hold with electrical issues. No new projected opening date has been released.