Update on Homeless Emergency; Homekey at Capacity, Mobile Crisis Unit Clocks 123 Calls in First Month

At the April 8, 2024, Culver City Council meeting, Housing and Human Services Director Tevis Barnes presented the update on the homeless emergency, giving numbers on Project Homekey, Wellness Village, the hotel residency program and the Mobile Crisis Unit. All projects are in full operation, and more support is being added. 

The mission to “create a continuum of care in our community,” is being fulfilled, Barnes stated, and the data offered bears that out. 

Project Homekey’s 32 units are currently completely occupied, with the permanent housing taking in 34 residents (two couples,) and the interim housing site supporting 14 residents in 14 units. Wellness Village, (formerly known as the Safe Sleep Site) is also filled, with 21 guests in 19 suites (two couples,) and all sites also offering space for emotional support animals. In addition, the Motel Master Leasing program is housing 29 people in 25 rooms (four couples,) bring the total of people the city is housing to 98. Food is also included in the care package, as Barnes emphasized, “the city has a contract with Everytable, and since January, we have served 15,000 meals. We are making sure that people get breakfast, lunch and dinner, and of course water as well.” 

The Mobile Crisis Team which launched in March has been equally active, answering 123 calls for service in just over a month.Through those calls, six people have been placed in the Motel program and Wellness Village. These calls have come through the Mobil Crisis Line (310-253-5770) and fire and police dispatch. 

Dr. Dan Richardson,  the leader of the MCT, shared “We have been going since March the 4th … the team has been working very well with both police and fire, and doing a lot of pre-active outreach in the city. We have been taking the time to go out and introduce ourselves, build rapport, and create relationships with people on the street.” The team is available Monday through Friday from 10 am to 6 pm.

When it was time for the council to ask their questions, Council member Freddy Puza wanted to know “How often has the anti-camping ordinance been enforced ?”

Assistant City Manager Arames White-Sherin responded that “since November of 2023, we have had 22 service days [cleanups/sweeps] and we have had to enforce 11 anti-camp violations.We have been able to get people into Safe Sleep.” City Manager John Nachbar emphasized “We have never enforced the ordinance without placing the individual. We have never had a situation where the individual has stayed on the sidewalk or the street.”

After a question from Council member Eriksson about moving people towards job training, Barnes explained the “exit strategy;” the requirements by the state for people to leave supported housing. “The matrix are measured in helping folks get job training, or connect with resources to create income, something as simple as getting an ID so they can apply for work…All exits have to show where did they exit to – many folks want to move on to apartment living, or just being on their own. Just helping someone move from [General Relief] to Social Security can be a game-changer for people living below the poverty line.”

Barnes noted another expansion of the support offered by the city, saying “We are launching our partnership with Health Care in Action, a street medicine service. Melody Porter of HCA addressed the meeting,  noting that Health Care in Action would be offering “comprehensive care to  the unsheltered population; not only do we have our clinicians who are supporting, but also a care team, helping our patients.”

After years of planning and programs being launched, the city looks to have very good statistics on how resources are being utilized to address the issues of the unhoused. 

Judith Martin-Straw

The Actors' Gang