Silver Lake prepares to take a closer look at its homeless

A  team of city sanitation crews, police and homeless outreach workers recently descended on the homeless encampment found under the brick archways of the Sunset Boulevard bridge that crosses over Silver Lake Boulevard. Rusty Millar of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council would like to find funds to keep the underpass clean on an ongoing basis but it’s clear the homeless will be back. The underpass is one of several spots where people living on the streets have found shelter in Silver Lake, which is better known for its hipsters than its homeless. In late October, volunteers now being recruited will fan out across the neighborhood’s underpasses, empty lots and alleys to get a better idea of the size and conditions of Silver Lake’s homeless population.

The goal of the first-ever Silver Lake Registry is to identify the most vulnerable of homeless residents and get them off the streets and into housing, said Jeremy Sidell with People Assisting the Homeless.  Sidell said he expects the survey to identify at least 100 homeless persons in Silver Lake, and his agency is prepared to house 26 of those.

“We are trying to take a chunk out of the homeless people living on the streets,” he said.

Sidell said Silver Lake’s homeless have clustered in the area in part because it’s easily accessible to  Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles, where the main shelters and homeless service agencies are located. Many neighborhood homeless residents have also come to depend on the generosity of Silver Lake residents and shoppers.  “It’s a very generous community of people who can give hand outs,” he said.

There are also numerous underpasses as well as wooded lots and fields where the homeless can live out of view. “We will focus on these hot spots,” Sidell said.

Similar homeless surveys and registry have been undertaken in communities ranging from Hollywood to Whittier. Instead of simply counting heads, the volunteers will go out with a seven-page questionaire to try and get as much information as possible about the homeless, including health and mental conditions and the number of years on the street.  The information gathered by the volunteers will be entered into a database and measured against a Vulnerability Index to help determine who is in most need of housing.

Path is seeking about 150 volunteers to help interview the homeless during the early morning hours and help process the information. Silver Lake resident Dorit Guerrero, who has volunteered at homeless shelters in downtown and Pasadena,  plans to volunteer.

“We don’t have many service providers,” said Guerrero.  But “my first thought about Silver Lake’s homeless population is that it is small enough and concentrated enough to be conquered.”

An event to raise awareness and support of the Silver Lake Registry will be held on August 2. Click here for details about the kickoff and how to volunteer for the survey.

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  1. I live near this underpass and was wondering what had happened to the homeless that lived there when I recently saw the place emptied out. I am very happy to hear that this program is getting started and I would very much like to help. My utmost concern is to get this people into housing and really helping them if possible….I am not concerned with just sweeping them into another neighborhood (like echo park ).

  2. Silverlake is a beautiful area, and yes, the homeless problem needs to be addressed, not just thrown out the area. They need shelter, food, etc. California needs to take care of their own people, before donating all over the world to help out! Check your back door first….

  3. If you are passionate about this issue and are interested in volunteering, please email me at JessicaW@epath.org – there are many ways for people to help out! Thanks so much.

  4. I hope that some of them can be housed in the soon-to-be-completed Vendome Palms facility (on Vendome and Sunset – across from Los Globos) when it opens.

    I attended numerous meetings about Vendome Palms and asked about whether they were going to do any outreach in the neighborhood / use the facility for the local homeless and never really got a straight answer.

  5. rizzo- the ACOF project at Vendome will be taking folks who are already in shelters under case management. And ACOF is not a “housing first’ program. A housing first program takes high risk folks off the street and put them in housing. They are not asked to address mential health issuse or stop taking drugs. ACOF is not a housing first program and the community around the Vendome project (at least at teh meetings I have gone to) want residents in that building to be case managed, off drugs and addressing mential health issues.

  6. Perhaps a more accurate sociological term for those who hang out under the Sunset bridge all day drinking is “bum.”

  7. It sounds like they plan to use a paper survey. Why not a survey via PDA so data can be entered directly to a database instead of needing processing …

  8. A hobo is a person that travels and works.
    A tramp is a person that travels and drinks.
    A bum is a person that doesn’t travel and drinks.

  9. bum, hobo, tramp. many words have been used to describe homeless folks over the years. does it matter what name we use? does the name make them any less human or less in need?

  10. @ doreet – Thanks for the clarification re: Vendome Palms.

  11. Yes, a bum is less worthy of sympathy – more so when he is pooping outside your house.

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