Homelessness

We support measures to ensure planning to prevent homelessness and to lessen the burden through local services.
Position In Brief: 

The League of Women Voters of Ventura County supports measures to ensure planning to prevent homelessness, to provide effective, coordinated services and to ensure availability of replacement low-cost housing prior to demolition. (1990-91)

Position History: 

2007 Supported the VCHH Coalition’s 10 Year Plan to end homelessness in Ventura County.

1992 Urged Ventura County Board of Supervisors to support Community Development Block Grant proposal submitted by Ventura County Homeless Coalition because coordinated planning is necessary to ameliorate the problem.

1991 Opposed elimination of the Homeless Assistance Program. State elimination of funds would also result in federal elimination of matching funds.

         Contacted member agencies of the Homeless Coalition to suggest that they assist the homeless in registering to vote. Nineteen agencies had voter registration forms and information available at their facilities and activities. An estimated 300 voter registration forms were distributed to individuals in a population census of the homeless in Ventura County and a public education meeting.

Social Policy Position

Homelessness

Specifics of Position

1. Planning for measures which prevent homelessness.
     a) Such planning requires short, intermediate and long-term coordination to address the needs of the homeless.
     b) Such planning should be mandated and adequately financed for and by all levels of government.
     c) Such planning should include active, informed citizens.
     d) Such planning by cities and county are important in the following areas:
      to assure local participation and control
      to link funding sources with services
      to coordinate and oversee local public and private services
      to lobby state and federal government for funding
      to cut red tape, bureaucratic stumbling blocks and avoidable costs.
     e) Such planning should avoid demolition of low cost housing until replacement housing is available. State and local laws requiring such replacement should be enforced. Citizens must be vigilant. Cost estimates should include all reasonable and usual cost to public agencies and individuals.
2. Planning for services to address the needs of homeless persons.
     a) Such planning should be mandated and adequately financed for and by all levels of government.
     b) Such planning should address the needs of each homeless person as an individual and should go beyond food and shelter and into counseling, training, education, mental and physical health. Services should be effective and economical. Homeless persons should have available the aid of an ombudsman.
     c) Such planning should include active, informed citizens. Networking between the public and private sector should be dynamic.
      Government should assume responsibility, especially in finances.
      The private sector should be involved in direct services and daily contacts, such as distribution of food and clothing, publicity about problems of homeless people, dissemination of resource information and availability of shelter.
      Both public and private participation are needed to inform and to reach out to the public.

Background

The growing problem of the homeless led to the 1990/91 local program study item. “Homelessness” is defined in the 1987 McKinney Homeless Assistance Act (Public Law 100-77) to include:

1. an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night time residence; and
2. an individual who has a primary night time residence that is
     (a) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill;
     (b) an institution that provides temporary residences for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or
     (c) a public or private place not designated for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

The focus of the study was kept to the problems and possible solutions to homelessness for local action. The growing problem of homelessness can be attributed to the deteriorating economic situation, to cutbacks in federal and state social service programs and subsidized housing, and to the lack of available low cost housing (e.g. rentals). Other league positions on Land Use Planning, Human Resources and Social Policy allow action in related areas such as housing and social services on local as well as state and national levels. During the study, the LWV-Ventura County joined the Ventura Homeless Coalition and cosponsored with the Coalition a workshop on homelessness.

Effective areas for local action in the future could be: monitoring replacement low-cost housing, educating the public, extending voter registration services to the homeless and participating with other agencies in coordinating services. Members approved the idea of an ombudsman for the homeless.

During the study, members were impressed with the dedication of the staff and volunteers of the agencies, organizations and other groups providing services to the homeless. Despite extremely difficult odds and very limited funding, high quality services were being provided in Ventura County by these individuals.

League to which this content belongs: 
Ventura County