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ACLU Dismisses Homeless Lawsuit Against City of Santa Monica


DATE: June 8, 2010

CONTACT: Setareh Yavari, MSW, Homeless Services Administrator

Lance Gams, Deputy City Attorney

The ACLU has dropped its claims against the City of Santa Monica.  The lawsuit’s dismissal is complete.  It requires no monetary payment of any kind, no change in any City law, policy or practice and no admission of any fault whatsoever.

Santa Monica is known nationwide for its long history of responding to homelessness with compassion, innovation and funding.  For these reasons, the ACLU’s lawsuit was a waste of their resources and a failure to understand Santa Monica’s extensive work.  Said Mayor Bobby Shriver, “When it comes to addressing homelessness, Santa Monica is the regional leader.   We believe the lawsuit was unnecessary and a distraction. Everyone needs to focus on regional issues to solve homelessness in Los Angeles once and for all.”      

The Action Plan to End Homelessness in Santa Monica is a focused strategy developed by the City with local service providers and other agencies to ensure the most vulnerable and chronically homeless people on the streets are served.  Its ultimate goal is permanent, supportive housing.  Further, there are over 450 shelter beds available to homeless individuals in Santa Monica, much more than most other cities in the region.

Key components of the Action Plan include a Homeless Community Court (with major funding from LA County); an Eviction Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing program (that since November 2009 has assisted 70 local low-income households impacted by the economic downturn); a Service Registry (that directs  resources to over 400 chronically homeless individuals, including veterans, who have been on Santa Monica’s streets for an extended period of time); and Project Homecoming, (a program which since 2006 has reunited over 650 homeless individuals with family and services in their home towns).

Santa Monica’s taxpayers fund over 20 non-profit programs to serve the homeless population.  In addition, the Santa Monica Housing Authority provides rental subsidies to homeless and formerly homeless individuals for permanent housing.  In total, Santa Monica spends $5.7 million annually on these programs.  Therefore on a per capita basis the City spends $60 per resident to address homelessness, far outstripping what other localities spend.  In addition, local nonprofit organizations use City of Santa Monica funding to successfully leverage other regional, state, and national dollars.  As a result, for every $1 of City investment in homeless programs, local agencies raise on average $12.63 from other sources.

This substantial investment in the homeless population has generated a strong return for the community.  The City of Santa Monica experienced a 19% reduction in its homeless population from 2009-2010, and a 25% reduction from 2007-2010.

While Santa Monica has excelled in serving those in the community that are most vulnerable and living on the streets, homelessness is ultimately a regional, state and national problem.  The City continues to call for a sustained approach to homelessness wherein each jurisdiction does its fair share to address the needs in their own communities.

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