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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Community meeting to be held over Silver Lake project for homeless and mentally ill residents

Officials with the Vendome Palms, a 36-unit project for mentally ill and homeless tenants, will be on hand during a Thursday night meeting to address the concerns of residents and business owners located near the Silver Lake development. In July, the City Council approved a $6.2 million loan to  help A Community of Friends, a nonprofit housing developer, renovate a 1926 apartment building at Vendome Street near Sunset Boulevard into low-cost housing for homeless and mentally ill residents. Plans include services and case managers to assist the tenants, who will be housed primarily in studio apartments.

While Councilman Eric Garcetti, who supports the project, said he would address residents’ concerns, some residents who live near the Vendome Palms remain worried about the project’s impact on their corner of Silver Lake. Said one resident via email:

“Vendome Palms is “independent living” which means that the service providers will basically have no say over how these people behave outside of their walls … Many of us in the neighborhood feel that it is crucial that we have them to agree to certain guidelines of accountability – in writing. We need to know that if any of their residents are a constant nuisance, harassing or endangering people, engaging in criminal activity, loitering in the park or at local businesses, etc that there will be a mechanism in place to remove them from the facility.”

The meeting will be held on Thursday, Sept. 23rd from 7 PM – 9PM  at The Russian Orthodox Church, 650 Micheltorena St.

Photo from Google Maps

Related posts:
Affordable housing developer seeks city loan for 36-unit Silver Lake  project. The Eastsider



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36 comments

  1. Does anyone know why this building was emptied and boarded up to begin with? When I moved to the neighborhood 10 years ago it was a functioning apartment building, what happened?

  2. I believe there had been a fire.
    My biggest concern is the proximity to the elementary school. It’s two blocks away. It’s not the homeless part that concerns me as much as the mentally ill.

  3. Rebecca- as a parent at Micheltorena Street Elementary School, I am happy ACOF will be running this building. The residents will be coming from other programs; will be under case management and most likely on medications. And due to the funding ACOF will be getting, there will be no registered sex offenders!!!

  4. I live just down the street from this location and I think this will be detrimental to a part of Silver Lake that is just getting it’s legs after years of gang wars and drug violence. It also seems dangerous or even foolhardy to house so many mentally ill or drug addicted people across the street from the Los Globos Nightclub which has had more than its share of problems with crime and drug incidents. It’s a busy stretch of Sunset with bars and liquor stores close by and there is already a problem with residents of the other halfway house just up the hill congregating in that park and pickpocketing pedestrians.

  5. I’ve been reading up on this issue in anticipation of the community meeting on Thursday at 7 pm at the Greek Orthodox Church at 650 Micheltorena St. and I couldn’t help but notice that Doreet’s comment is repeated nearly verbatim in every writeup about this project. The consistency makes me doubt her authenticity. Is this someone who works for or with the sponsoring organization?

  6. @Rebecca — TWO elementary schools. St. Francis is a private elementary school that butts up to Micheltorena. Trying to be open minded but would be lying if I said I am thrilled about it, especially when there are other similar buildings closeby.

  7. Daizy,
    I am a social worker at a homeless shelter in the Pasadena. I have been doing this work for about 25 years. I also have a daughter in the 5ht grade at Micheltorena Street School (please check the web site under Friends of Micheltorena you will see that I am the founder and co chair of that booster group). My husband and I have owned a house off Sunset in Silver Lake for 13 years and 3 months. Up until about 3 years ago (when my mom took ill and I needed to take care of her) I was very active in the Silver Lake community, including being on the formation committee of the SLNC, active in SLIA, on the Bellevue PAB and the Greater Silver Lake Parks Coalition.
    As a community member and social worker, I am very excited about ACOF developing this project.
    If you still have issues with my authenticity or have other questions for me, feel free to contact me at [email protected].
    I will be at the meeting Thursday I hope we get a chance to talk then.
    Dorit Dowler-Guerrero

  8. ACOF is the developer but not the service provider. The service provider will be Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles, who, by the way, run the biggest needle exchange program in Los Angeles and do a lot of outreach with drug addicts on Skid Row.

    Also to clarify: this is not for mentally ill and homeless (2 separate things) – it is for mentally ill homeless. All the residents will be mentally ill. ACOF told us that themselves. And as this is “independent living” there will be no monitoring of meds prescribed for mental illness to be sure they take them by the service providers. ACOF told us this as well.

    As a neighbor to this place (I live 1 blocks away) I think it is fair for us to demand accountability as to how Vendome Palms will assimilate into the neighborhood that we have worked so hard for years to improve.

    We want to know who to contact and that we can expect quick response and decisive action when problems arise.

    If any of their tenants continually cause problems in the neighborhood we want there to be a mechanism in place to remove them from the apartments. Perhaps a system where they get warnings first and if the behavior continues they are not allowed to live there anymore. We are hoping to have some code of conduct rules that potential tenants must agree to before they get to live there.

    If Homeless Healthcare of LA proves to be an irresponsible or non-responsive service provider, we want assurances that ACOF will bring in someone new with a proven track record at running this type of residence in a dense residential neighborhood.

    We want to know that some significant outreach will be done locally to offer this housing to our local homeless mentally ill residents. Not simply import Skid Row’s problems.

    We want security.

    We want clarification on what criminal histories the tenants will be allowed to have.

    Our goal is to have them go on record and put in writing their answers to the above. We want assurances that they will be responsible neighbors.

    This is a very important meeting and we hope that as many local residents as possible attend and address their concerns. Construction is set to start soon. This may be the last chance we have to really address these issues.

  9. Rizzo your questions are good ones and the community has every right to hold ACOF and any developers’ feet to the fire. I will ask what the security will be like and if the security staff will help police -and if the case management staff will do outreach- at the park down the street from the building. When ACOF built the Gateway building, I too was demanding answers and got them. I was very happy with the way ACOF handled the questions (not so happy with Gateways)
    I suggest you visit a few ACOF buildings. Check the web site for a list of them. I visit two at least once a month to check up of clients I have placed there. I find both of these building to be well run, quite and clean. Also check out Homeless Healthcare (we are luckily they are the service providers, some other providers SUCK).
    Residents are screened before they move in. The majority of them are on meds and will stay on their meds. They are tenants and as tenants they can be kicked out if they break building rules/ laws.
    None of them decided they wanted be have depression or schizophrenia. I am not going to try and convince you that all the tenants will be idea community members. Even on meds, many will still act in ways “normal” folks would not. But that does not mean they are a danger. Mental illness is an illness. And its better to have them in housing with supportive services then on the streets or in the park a block away.

  10. @Daizy Silver Lake suffers from gang wars? I grew up in Silver Lake, went to St. Francis from K-8 and while there are gangs present there has never been severe violence. Never did I feel unsafe walking home from St. Francis to my apartment on the west end of Sunset Junction. And I spent a lot of time on Sunset Blvd east of St. Francis and never saw anything significantly violent.

    I am proud that Silver Lake will be hosting such a project. But after working for a similar non-profit, Covenant House California in Hollywood, I do agree that the neighborhood has a right to ask questions and deem accountability for what goes on INSIDE the facility. The people who reside inside are not pets and cannot be trained and controlled. They are human beings who have suffered severe trauma that need assistance. There is only so much the people running the facility can do. Their structure must be strong, rules stern and assistance must be carried out with understanding and compassion. Hopefully they will have rules in place that will deter any type of destructive behavior outside their facility. And consequences that are appropriate for the action.

    I look forward to seeing what has to be said at this week’s meeting.

  11. @ Doreet:
    Thanks for the info. I totally get that the potential tenants never wanted to be mentally ill and that it is a disease. This is not about “demonizing” the mentally ill and we have compassion for their plight and their need for help.

    That corner is the walking gateway from Sunset into the neighborhood – right by the bus stops where kids and local residents get off the bus, across from new local businesses and 1/2 block from the park that we have worked so long to clean up. It is a matter of community safety. We simply want service provider accountability and responsiveness should problems arise. We hope to walk away from this meeting with assurances in this regard that will put our minds at ease.

    Hope to see you (and all that are posting here) at the meeting. By the way, my name is Kelly. I will be speaking there. Please come say hello.

  12. Homeless Health Care Los Angeles (HHCLA) provides many services besides syringe exchange, and that is a cheap shot. I am the Program Coordinator for a syringe exchange program in Los Angeles, and believe me: they will not import Skid Row’s problems into your neighborhood. LA needle exchange programs are funded under different grants than the Vendome program and there is no crossover whatsoever. The rules for syringe exchange programs in Los Angeles are very clear and not flexible at all. It is incredibly hard to open a new syringe exchange site; impossible without community and stake holders approval. You do not need to worry about it happening in your neighborhood. Syringe Exchange is a public health issue, and this program on Vendome is Mental Health.

    I am not going to get into a discussion about Syringe Exchange (although I find it fascinating that you used it as an example of how irresponsible HHCLA is, despite the fact that syringe exchange is proven to reduce the transmission of HIV amongst the population at large). I just wanted to say that HHCLA is a completely professional organization, with a LONG track record of providing excellent services to a variety of different populations. If you worked with as many agencies as I do, you would realize that you are fortunate to have HHCLA as the provider (rather than numerous other agencies whose primary purpose is to suck up funding that would better be spent elsewhere). They truly care about people, and that includes the communities in which they work. I am confidant that once this program is running, you will have little to worry about. If programs like this didn’t exist, you would have these very same people on the street with no interventions at all.

    I work on Skid Row, and the numbers of homeless mentally ill in that location is far more than you can imagine, and certainly far more than will be housed in the Vendome Palms. I do not fear for my life, and I am still in one piece. I believe taht you have little to worry about. If you want to improve your neighborhood, try shutting down all of those liquor stores at the corner of Parkman and Sunset.

  13. based on the imput on this blogg, Thursday meeting is going to be very interestring.

  14. @ to rizzo:
    I did not say they would de doing a syringe exchange program here. I was not under that impression. i also didn’t state that HHLA was irresponsible. I think you read something into my comment that wasn’t there.

  15. P.S. We have had numerous smaller meetings abut this project in the past 3 months. ACOF always attends with all their people. Homeless Healthcare Of Los Angeles have yet to attend one – which has surprised us as they will be the service provider.

    We specifically asked ACOF to bring them to this coming meeting when the idea of it came up last month. We look forward to hearing what they have to say and have wanted that for quite some time.

    Also – for what it is worth I fully understand the value of needle exchange programs. The only reason I mentioned it is that when trying to learn about them on our own – as we have yet to meet them – that is what came up along with their outreach. There is no mention on their website that, we could find anyway, of them running residential programs such as this one in dense residential neighborhoods.

    We are hoping this well all turn out well and understand the need to help and house mentally ill people. We welcome the opportunity to have HHLA address our concerns and specifically requested via ACOF that they attend. Please don’t jump down my throat and make assumptions otherwise.

  16. This is a local issue and by “local” I mean Sunset/Parkman. It is not a “Silver Lake” issue but a Sunset/Parkman one that should be decided by the residents of that area – not Silverlakers who may live by the reservoir or by the Sunset Junction. Nobody wants schizos on meds by their homes. And that is the truth.

  17. @Libertad
    It’s a relief to see that your lack of compassion isn’t just reserved for hipsters.

  18. Libertad schizophrenia is an illness that can be controlled by medication and you may already have folks who suffer from schizophrenia and taking their medications living next door to you already. Yes I do live in the sunset Junction community and if ACOF or other good developer of supportive housing wanted to build near my home, I would work with them. The reason they are building on Vendome is because that building is the one that is empty due to a fire.
    The fear in the community is understandable especially considering how mankind has demonized mental illness. Please folks, demand answers and accountability but have an open mind and open hart.

  19. how many “schizos” do you know that take their medication when not monitored and forced to take it? this could be a dangerous situation and that’s not elitist or lacking in compassion – it’s realistic. this project needs strong and constant oversight and it’s location is ridiculous. mental illness is a challenge and can not be handled poorly – there needs to be a lot of accountability. anyone ever been to the psychiatric unit at county? i have. anyone have a friend stabbed in the back and killed by a mentally ill homeless man who was living in a halfway house but refused to take his meds? i have. and i will be at this meeting. that’s great that a lot of people who probably never walk in that neighborhood are all loving this idea – we’ve already got issues when we walk down vendome – this place needs to make the neighborhood safer and better, not open up a whole new element of potential danger for residents both in the project and in the neighborhood.

  20. @Doreet-

    Easy to say you would support a homeless schizo clinic in your Sunset Junction area – when there is none and none are proposed.

    The “Sunset/Parkman” residents should have final say in what happens in their neck of the woods. If the majority supports the project, then so be it.

    I strongly believe in local control of issues – whether it is a homeless shelter, permit parking or a street fair (in fact, Doreet, with your community activist resume, why have you allowed that crook McKinley to run a beer festival in your area for all this time? That drunken mess of a street fair has NOTHING to do with the community and does not benefit the hood at all. Time to shut that fest down.)

  21. @boombala –

    When you attack the messenger instead of debating the message, you reveal your inability to handle intelligent, rational discourse.

    The fact is most folks do not want schizos on meds o their block.

  22. Hi Liberated- well I have fought Sunset Junction Street fair for years. And we got a few changes along the way. Sorry I was not able to do more, thanks for asking. I don’t know who will have the final say about the ACOF project, it may be the neighbors or if they are not asking for any wavers or variances, they may be able to build it with out any community input.

  23. @ pepper: Obviously you live in the neighborhood and will be directly effected by how this place is run. I am glad that you will be coming to the meeting. We have been dealing with this since July and it has been hard to get anyone but the same few people out to address concerns. Please spread the word.

    @ doreet: It is my understanding that this is a “by-right” development and can not be stopped at this point. And The City Council giving them that last $6.2 million bond/loan in July was the final step in the process for them to be able to really get this going.

    That is why this meeting is even more important… because Vendome Palms is going to happen and now is the time to have our demands re: accountability heard – before things really get rolling.

    By the way, the “cost” to develop this property- as listed on the ACOF website – is $13.3 million dollars!!!

  24. Wow – $13.3 million for 36 studio apartments = $370,000 per unit. Something smells kinda fishy to me.

  25. @doreet I’m sorry if I offended you. I only pointed out that your postings have been decidedly ‘on-point’ and consistent for someone with no vested interest in the project. Since you live in Sunset Junction, your daughter would walk home in the opposite direction. Children living on Vendome and on the adjacent streets will be walking by this building every day. While I realize that mental illness is a disease and not a choice, maintaining a consistent regimen of medication is a choice and it is a choice that cannot be enforced in an independent living facility. The very same people who might be kind and benign when properly medicated can be dangerous to themselves and others without that medication. They might not be liable for their actions but someone should be. It’s easy to be enthusiastic and supportive of services and to criticize others for a lack of compassion when it is not in your street. As long as the mentally ill residents are not loitering in the park where your children play there is nothing but open-hearted idealism but the realities of the situation and questions of accountability and security are of more concern to those of us in the shadow of that building.

  26. What a nightmare… it took years to clean up Vendome… the haven for murders, shootings, robbers, prostituion etc… if you werent here in the 80’s get ready the good old times will be back and they will spill into every area of Silver Lake if this goes through…
    6.5 mil could be used for afterschool programs for our youth, senior center activities etc.
    What a horrible legacy Garcetti is leaving us with just like slimy Goldberg… careful what you wish for you might get it

  27. Daisy- you did not offened me, but you did wonder if I was a spy for ACOF or not. my daughter does play in the Laura and hardy park a block away from the proposed ACOF building. Her best friend lives in one of the homes by the park.

  28. I have lived in this neighborhood for more than 13 years, and I am completely opposed to this project.

    We already have a halfway house on the corner of Robinson and Descanso, not far from the proposed project. The residents of the halfway house create unpleasantness in several ways: they smoke so much just outside the gates that I can’t even walk my dog by that corner anymore as it is too difficult to breathe; the smoking leads to litter in the street and on the sidewalk from all their cigarette butts; they sit outside the property and talk to themselves or harass passersbys with their comments; the residents stop in front of our houses, drop their drawers, and urinate in the gutters right in front of us; they sleep amongst our trash cans. Please. We don’t need more of this. Especially so close to an existing facility.

    I would prefer to see the building in question turned into low-income senior housing. It would be perfect for such a group. It’s right on the bus line, and walking distance from the Sunset Health Clinic. There are plenty of shops and restaurants within walking distance, and I believe wholeheartedly (after 13 years in the neighborhood) that senior residents would be welcomed with open arms in our neighborhood.

  29. Doreet….It’s Laurel and Hardy Park. Hello? Does it not concern all of you that it’s also 1 1/2 blocks away from an elementary school? And that some of the services they will be providing at this facility are a “substance abuse recovery” program, a “medication monitoring and management” program. All fine and good. Beautiful, in fact. NOT 11/2 BLOCKS AWAY FROM AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!!!

  30. @ cardown – Actually there will be no medication monitoring as it is “independent living”.

    @ Lisa – Low income senior housing would have been great, but unfortunately that is not what is going in here. Sorry to hear about the problems you have with the other facility by you. Ugh. There is definitely a disproportionate amount of this type of housing in our neighborhood.

    Please come to the meeting!

  31. Lisa-
    • We have a low income senior citizen building on Sunset and Mary, about a mile or so from the Vendome building
    Cardown-
    • Yep I am a crappy speller, sorry if my mis-spelling on the parks name offend you.
    • My daughter goes to the school you sighted in your response. And as I write this, it accrued to me that the school did not pass out flyers to the parents about tonight’s meeting (or at least my kid did not bring one home) it would have been nice if the folks who organized the meeting had included flyers to the school
    • The coffee house a block away from the proposed site has 12-step meeting all the time, which is also “substance abuse recovery” program
    • I hope you are right about the “medication monitoring and management” program. I for one will ask about that at tonight’s meeting.

    And if there are going to be any more community meetings, I would be happy to ask the principal at Micheltorena to pass out flyers to the students.

  32. I had to skip the meeting because I was working downtown – where I used to live for 2 years before I moved to Silverlake, two blocks from the proposed site.
    When I was downtown I felt ANGRY that other parts of the city were not allowing these developments, ensuring that all the homeless/recovering/etc. people will stay downtown.

    We, as a city, have got to stop using downtown as a dumping ground – have you walked down Skid Row at night? There is no room! And it is because Angelenos have this “not in my neighborhood” attitude about it all.
    Silverlake, Los Feliz, Echo Park, Hollywood, every part of our city should offer ample housing and programs.

    I am for this project.

    I am also looking forward to hearing about what was said at the meeting.

  33. you're right SL rez

    This is exactly why all of the service providers are concentrated on Skid Row, and now with gentrification and the safer cities initiative, there is an effort to move all of the homeless out of the skid row area. Eventually that effort will be successful, and all of the homeless/mentally ill/substance abusers will be forced to go into outlying area’s (Boyle Heights, Echo Park, Silverlake. etc…); obviously there will not be a warm welcome from the residents of those neighborhoods. It’s a horrible problem, and a vicious cycle. Can you imagine spending your life being herded like cattle from location to location? It’s appalling to me that our society is able to cast a blind eye to this issue; these are people. They have thoughts, emotions, hopes and dreams; just like everyone else. Instead of being shocked and saddened when we see someone openly suffering like this, somehow we just get irritated and display no compassion at all. makes you wonder who the bad people really are.

  34. Remember the way you feel about this issue when the next city council district 13 election comes around. Your city councilman could have done a great deal to stop this. Our current city councilman decided to passively sit by.

    Whatever your position is on this, remember that the politicians have the ability to control the fate of these projects.

    In the future I suggest knowing the position of your political representatives on this issue before the election.

  35. I had a friend who suffered from schizophrenia & took his med’s most of the time ,then he stopped for some reason ,he didin’t tell anyone 3 day’s later he killed his mother” he didin’t mean to do it” but it happened.I am opposed to the project not the people in it but the people running it .

  36. I’ve lived in Silverlake for almost ten years and I am so thankful something like this will be available. Silverlake has some of the nicest homeless people I’ve ever met. You’d be surprised how well-spoken some of these “mentally-ill” people are. To whomever’s in charge: great job!

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