Over the course of six weeks, service providers aided by local officials moved 211 homeless people who had camped along the Venice boardwalk for more than a year. Most of them now have interim housing, mainly in hotels and motels. A handful went to the transitional shelter in Venice. Did it cost a lot of money? Yes. Did it take a lot of effort? Yes. In fact, it took a village — of outreach workers and others — to move and temporarily house the scores of people who had made the beach their home.
What it did not take was a force of 750 Los Angeles police officers, as was the case during the tense showdown at Echo Park Lake in the spring, when a large encampment there was cleared out. To be sure, there were police at Venice Beach. But according to city officials and the service providers at the nonprofit St. Joseph Center, which carried out the plan to move the beach dwellers into temporary housing, the police supported their efforts rather than complicating them.
One big accomplishment: The effort gave lie to the trope that homeless people living on the street are “service resistant.” Even people who professed their love of the view of the ocean from their tents left for brick and mortar housing. The vast majority of people living by the boardwalk at the end of June agreed to take housing by the end of July. In the outreach effort, the St. Joseph Center team also connected with people who just showed up at the boardwalk wanting housing. The housing options set aside for the boardwalk encampment were finite, but the center and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority will work on finding more housing for people who came looking for it.