After receiving an email regarding the Westminster Senior Center being converted or used as a homeless facility, Mike Bonin sent a reply today to clarify some misinformation, and here it is:
Thank you for the email. This is important issue for Venice and for your neighborhood and I’m grateful to hear from you. I understand and genuinely appreciate your concerns. There is a ton of misinformation circulating about this subject, and I’m glad for the the opportunity to clear the air with some facts.
To be brief:
There has been a voluntary storage program for people who are homeless, operating near the Venice Beach paddle tennis courts, for the past several weeks.
It is a necessary program, for many reasons, including legal, practical and humane ones. (The City essentially has a legal need to provide voluntary storage before it can clean up debris and abandoned materials from homeless encampments. And we need to do a lot more of that.)
Thanks to the efforts of volunteers with a local nonprofit, Venice Community Housing Corporation, this program is being offered at no cost to the City.
Many people have suggested alternative locations to the current location, including but not limited to the former Westminster Senior Center and the First Baptist Church.
I am told the current location is reaching capacity, and volunteers do not have access to heat or electricity at the location.
I have made absolutely no decisions on whether to move the program, or where. For the time being, it remains at the Venice Beach location.
I won’t move it without an open public hearing, with an agenda item listing specifically any proposed alternatives.
I won’t move it until the volunteers from the nonprofit that operates the program detail to neighbors how the program would work, and whether it would operate for an hour per day, with supervision, as the beach program has been doing, or function somewhat differently.
No one has proposed directly to me a homeless shelter or service of any kind at the center. (And I was unaware until Saturday that VCHC was talking about potentially more than storage.)
Ultimately, the program needs to be located somewhere, and I need to decide whether to keep it where it is, or approve a relocation.
I hope that clarifies matters somewhat. I am going to ask my staff to keep you informed of further developments.
Councilmember, 11th District