With the deal to convert the former Holloway Motel into interim housing finally sealed this week, West Hollywood now has its sights set on a new goal: establishing a “one-stop facility/drop-in center” for WeHo’s homeless services.
While greenlighting the operating contract for the Holloway Interim Housing Program at their meeting Monday night, City Council also received a quiet update to the city’s Five-Year Plan to Address Homelessness in Our Community from the Human Services and Rent Stabilization Department.
Tucked within the update is a brief but unmistakeable mention of the city’s next big idea in its efforts to address homelessness:
In 2024, the City will realize a longtime goal (and one of the goals included in the five-year plan) with the opening of the Holloway Interim Housing Program — to operate an interim housing program within City limits. Following the launch of this program, allowing time to make any necessary programmatic or operational adjustments, it will be vitally important to continue efforts included in the plan to identify a physical location for easy access to a range of services, including, but not limited to, restrooms, showers, laundry, safe storage, etc. This aligns with other division work plan goals to create a one-stop access/navigation center to access the full range of services funded by the City for both housed and unhoused community members.
The goal is based off recommendations in a study conducted last year by the United Way of Los Angeles and the RAND Corporation that call for these “one-stop shops” for people experiencing homelessness. The study describes them as such:
Drop-in centers typically have indoor space that offers multiple services in one location, ideally on a daily basis, and with a focus on services that are under-provided, but that are most sought by clients. Essentially, a one-stop shop for basic day-to-day needs, and to connect people to longer term care, such as health, housing, social, and financial supports.
City Hall’s report notes that WeHo’s service providers — such as Ascencia, recipient of the multimillion dollar contract to run the Holloway Interim Housing Program — are “keen on expanding current services, with 74% wanting to increase service capacity and 61% aiming to improve service quality.”
“However,” the report admits, “challenges such as community resistance and difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff are significant barriers.”
THE HOMELESS COUNT
The update to the Five-Year Plan also notes a curious anomaly in the annual Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count conducted last year by LAHSA.
West Hollywood’s official count of homeless people within city limits for 2022 was 40.
“Unfortunately,” the report reads, “due to inconsistent data, LAHSA did not release 2023 homeless count figures for individual cities in the county; this data point is missing.”
However, omitted from the staff report was data that LAHSA did release which shows homeless counts in West Hollywood’s seven U.S. Census tracts. In 2022, the total for the census tracts in WeHo was 29.
In 2023, it was 85 — an increase of 193 percent.
Last year’s count in WeHo was conducted out of sight from the public and the media. When the comprehensive results were published, they revealed a 9 percent rise in homelessness throughout L.A. County. While WeHo politicians campaigning for higher office — including former Councilmember Lindsey Horvath and former Mayor Sepi Shyne — have used the data to claim they have reduced homelessness, LAHSA’s methods have been widely scrutinized, and it is almost universally accepted that the figures they produce are a significant undercount.