Urban Alchemy CIRCLE response to homeless encampment

Photo courtesy You Tube 

VENICE- Venice residents who call 9-1-1 for things like trespassing, indecent exposure, loitering, or syringe disposal will get diverted to a non-violent response team. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti's Community-Led Engagement (CIRCLE) pilot officially launched on Monday. The program is a first-of-its-kind program and is meant to divert non-violent 9-1-1 calls related to homelessness away from law enforcement to trained, unarmed professionals.

According to public records, every year the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) receives more than 140,000 homeless related calls--which adds up to roughly one call every four minutes. As of Monday, any Persons Experiencing Homelessness (PEH)-related non-emergency calls from LAPD’s 911 system and the police non-emergency number will be diverted to a crisis response team that is said to be available 24/7.

In November, the mayor said they were starting to embed teams deployed in Hollywood and Venice to foster relationships with people experiencing homelessness.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled CIRCLE (Crisis and Incident Response Through Community-Led Engagement), a new program that will continue the City's work towards reducing homelessness. For more information visit: LAMayor.org

In addition, proactive embedded response teams will be deployed during the day, seven days a week, in areas of high need within Venice.

According to the Mayor,  teams will continue to build a rapport with the unhoused community, conduct light sanitation work, de-escalate situations as they arise, and create referrals to local service providers.  

CIRCLE teams are comprised of one outreach worker, one mental health clinician or licensed behavioral health clinician, and one community ambassador. Venice and Hollywood were selected as the pilot areas because of the high concentration of PEH and high volume of calls for service. 

Urban Alchemy, a Los Angeles-based organization that also runs the City’s mobile shower and restroom program and several of its interim housing facilities was selected as the service provider for the program.  

Money for the new program is said to be coming from the "Justice Budget" for the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year. However, no dollar amount for the program has been released. According to information received from Circling the News, community members are looking to hire a mental health worker in the Pacific Palisades at around $100K per year. 

This isn't the first pilot program related to PEH in Venice. This summer, the Los Angeles Fire Department assigned a dedicated Fast Response Vehicle (FRV) devoted primarily to the Boardwalk to respond to emergency calls as part of a pilot program.

Councilmember Mike Bonin also launched a “voluntary” cleanup pilot program last November in the Special Enforcement Cleanup Zone near bridge housing. Residents who live in the area say the cleanups have shown little success. 

There's no information about the cost or outcome of any of the pilot programs. And, although we know where the money is coming from for the new CIRCLE pilot program, it's unclear how much the program will cost.  

We reached out to the Mayor's office to ask about what systems will be put in place to measure success, or not, and did not heard back in time for this report. We also asked what the price tag of the program will be.

A representative from the Mayor's office is expected to speak at the next Venice Neighborhood Council meeting. That meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 18. 

The pilot program is expected to run until the end of next June.