WeHo Human Services Commission to Investigate PATH, Other LA Homeless Providers


PATH’s main building at .340 N. Madison Ave, Los Angeles
Concerned that an organization with a city contract to provide food and shelter to homeless people is serving inadequate meals and housing people in a building infested with mold, West Hollywood’s Human Services Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to create a special subcommittee to address those concerns.

Issues concerning People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), an organization has had a contract with the city for 13 years and has long been accused of failing to meet the terms of that contract, will be a major focus of the three-member subcommittee. But its scope will extend to all agencies dealing with homeless populations in Los Angeles County.

“We need to address the issues that have been raised about PATH services, but we need to put it in the context of other agencies,” explained Daphne Dennis, the city’s social services manager. “Let’s be looking at best practices where people are housed.”

While he voted to create the subcommittee, Commissioner Jimmy Palmieri was concerned that the problems with PATH would be swept under the table by the subcommittee.

“I’m looking for a solution to this; I’m not looking to lecture PATH,” said Palmieri. “From Day One, there have been non-stop problems with this provider, and I want those problems fixed.”

Dennis assured the commission that the problems will be addressed, saying the subcommittee will likely meet three or four times a month, with hopes of having a report back to the full commission in time for its February meeting. Those meetings will begin as soon as notices informing the public can be posted. Commissioners Anne-Marie Williams, Steven Davis and Rob Bergstein will serve on the subcommittee.


During its October meeting, the commission questioned a PATH representative who admitted charges of serving inadequate meals and spoiled food were true. The city’s contract with PATH states that three “nutritious” meals per day must be served to clients.

The PATH representative also confessed the organization did not have any emergency rations on hand to feed clients staying in its shelters should an earthquake or other disaster occur. Following that meeting Dennis checked with several other homeless agencies in Los Angeles County and found they also did not have emergency rations on hand. Thus Dennis suggested creating the subcommittee to bring groups serving the homeless together.

“[PATH] is the impetus for this, but it’s obvious this is wider problem,” said Commissioner Ruth Cislowski. “The intent is to bring together homeless providers, come up with best practices and share those practices with the other groups.”

Dennis explained that nationwide there is less funding available for homeless shelters. Instead, she said the trend is toward creation of permanent housing facilities for homeless people, and the subcommittee would also look at how the city should respond to that.

The commission expected PATH head Joel Roberts to be on hand Tuesday night to answer further questions about problems at PATH’s main facility at 340 Madison Ave., near the Beverly-Vermont intersection. However, Roberts was a no-show. Dennis explained that Robert had a conflict in his schedule but would be present at a future commission meeting.

PATH did send copies of its menus for October, per the commission’s request. Its breakfast menu always listed “continental breakfast” while its lunch menu read either “leftovers” or “sandwiches” each day.

Palmieri showed photos of a bag lunch PATH served clients consisting of a carton of milk and a peanut butter sandwich with only a small dollop of peanut butter. He also discussed a recent breakfast that consisted of cornflakes, milk and a pat of butter, but no bread, bowl or spoon.

Palmieri said he didn’t consider either meal adequate. The commission agreed it needed more details of what “leftovers” or “continental breakfast” consisted of.

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jimmy palmieri (@jimmypalmieri)

i’m thinking not only can Weho do better, we WOULD do better. The human condition is a top priority in this city. When I have people tell me they would rather get arrested than go to PATH, it’s a bell ringer for me.

10 years ago

Lets see if Weho can do any better for the same money .

Harold Mengert
Harold Mengert
10 years ago

If Weho were wise, it would do two things: 1. Realize that it’d be cheaper to house its homeless in studio apartments, including caseworkers to handle mental health, drug and alcohol rehab, etc, than it is to continue to support PATH, whose poor record with Weho’s homeless has been well documented and 2. Recognize that Ana Topolowski, who appeared in front of Council last month, told a string of demonstrable lies about the changes that have taken place. There is no improvement in lunches unless they are supplied by volunteers; there are no lock boxes over the HVAC thermostats; there… Read more »

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