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The most vulnerable of the estimated 60 homeless people in West Hollywood will soon be getting support through a Federal voucher program, meant to provide permanent shelter to those who need it the most.
West Hollywood City Council recently voted to accept 20 vouchers for shelter and care for the homeless, to be used over five years, as part of a citywide push to help with permanent housing for the chronically homeless — those most at-risk of dying on the street.
The voucher program is another step in a citywide effort, started by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, 3rd District, who committed substantial county resources place the homeless into permanent housing.
Yaroslavsky said getting 20 vouchers for the most at-risk homeless is a big step to ending the cycle of the chronically homeless.
“For a city the size of West Hollywood, that’s a significant number,” he said. “I give the city a good deal of credit.”
While other parts of Los Angeles like Venice, Santa Monica and downtown already use these vouchers, this is the first time West Hollywood will receive the funds.
“We have about 60 people who are homeless and on the streets who stay night after night,” said Daphne Dennis, the social services manager with the city.
About 20 people are considered “pass throughs” she said, those who sleep here on their way to another community.
A survey last year interviewed 135 people on the streets on four consecutive mornings, and 60 responded by saying they lived on the streets of West Hollywood; 15 of them were identified as being most vulnerable and seven of them have since been housed, with two expected about to be placed in housing in the near future.
West Hollywood was invited to submit an application to the County Housing Authority for the vouchers last year; the application showed there was a need, and they were granted the vouchers.
“Project 50” started almost two years ago to house 50 people who were homeless, and today, the program is being hailed a success, as 80 percent of those people still live in the same housing. The project, based in downtown’s Skid Row, has gained a lot of attention for its innovative approach to housing the chronically homeless.
The Board of Supervisors expanded the commitment to this approach by setting a goal of housing 500 homeless countywide, and enlisting communities like West Hollywood to participate.
People who are housed use emergency health services less often and have better overall health, officials said.
As an outreach team in West Hollywood continues to encounter new homeless people, the priority is to give them access to housing as quickly as possible, city officials said.
The city will continue to work with the County of Los Angeles and the Federal Department of Urban Development to end to chronic homelessness, a staff report said.
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