Planned cleanup homeless encampments along Venice boardwalk delayed

VENICE, Calif. (KABC) -- Sanitation workers were supposed to start cleaning up more homeless encampments along a portion of the Venice boardwalk Friday morning, but the process is still delayed.

A week ago, crews began to clear some areas where the unhoused set up their belongings. City officials hope to eventually transition those people into shelters or permanent housing.

The deadline to leave the area, designated "Zone 5," between Navy Street and Rose Avenue, was initially set for 7 a.m. July 9, but was extended by a week, after outreach teams with St. Joseph's Center requested more time to transition people into housing. The teams are working section by section on the boardwalk to bring people inside with a promise from the city of a pathway to permanent housing. As of Thursday afternoon, 118 people had accepted the offer.

The deadline for Zone 5 was extended to match the deadline for Zone 4, between Rose and Dudley avenues. Enforcement was expected to begin Friday morning.

"I don't know why the city, the community, can't provide more trash bins... that they do have, but more pickup," said Cina Hodges.

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Los Angeles city crews worked alongside several agencies to remove debris and personal items from homeless encampments along the Venice Boardwalk Friday.

One a week, Hodges strolls along the boardwalk. She walks up to three miles and each time sees faces who need help.

"This was their home and their friends and their family, all living right here. I mean, where would you go?" she asked.

Areas along the boardwalk are still lined with tents, some of which have now been set up on the sand.

John Oyewle is among the homeless individuals living in Venice.

"I've been stranded for a few months now," he said, adding that someone stole his passport.

He spoke to Eyewitness News, seriously, and then broke from the conversation.

"There's people on drugs, there are people that are obviously mentally challenged and they are just people that are down on their luck. Rents are expensive," Hodges said.

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Councilman Mike Bonin's initiative begins Monday to offer a voluntary path to permanent housing for all people living in encampments along Ocean Front Walk in Venice.

City Councilman Mike Bonin's "Encampment to Home" program began on June 28. The program promises all residents who accept shelter a pathway to permanent housing in an effort to clear the Venice boardwalk. Bonin said it may take time to place the unhoused Venice residents into the permanent housing options, particularly through the voucher program, as the city must identify willing landlords and available units.

In the interim, temporary housing has been given, including up to six months of motel placements, which is the most commonly requested form of temporary housing, Bonin said.

Zone 3, between Dudley and Sunset avenues, will be cleared by July 23, while Zone 2, between Sunset and Park avenues, will be cleared by July 30.

Eyewitness News' attempts to reach Bonin, along with L.A. Public Works, for an updated timeline were not immediately answered.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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