Advocacy and Policy

Joint Statement Regarding Sheriff Threats to Clear Venice Boardwalk

June 28, 2021

Despite widespread objections from elected officials, community nonprofits, homeless service providers and advocates over the last few weeks, the LA County Sheriff has not backed away from his threat to “clear” the Venice Boardwalk of unhoused individuals by July 4. A broad group of community leaders has issued the following statement calling for the Sheriff to permit seasoned and knowledgeable agencies to lead efforts to link people experiencing homelessness to services and housing without the disruptive impact of law enforcement:

Homelessness cannot be solved by pushing people from one community to another, nor can we arrest our way out of homelessness.

That is why we are deeply concerned by Sheriff Villanueva’s assertion that he will ask people living on the Boardwalk to move, and if they refuse, arrest them. Pushing people from one community to another doesn’t solve homelessness. It turns homelessness into a shell game.

Arrests that criminalize homelessness would be equally destructive and pointless: Those who are arrested will be transported from the Venice Boardwalk to the jail downtown and then released; Those who elude arrest will disappear into the surrounding Venice neighborhoods, disrupting months-long efforts by outreach workers to establish relationships and maintain contact with people experiencing homelessness so they can be re-housed.

Research validates our approach. Studies demonstrate that outreach efforts led by armed law enforcement officers are less effective than outreach led by service providers with the expertise and experience to connect people to appropriate services and housing. With the launch of the Encampment to Home, we have the resources to substantially augment the services and rehousing efforts for those who live on the Boardwalk.

By inserting himself into the Venice Boardwalk re-housing efforts, The Sheriff is engaging in political theater in a community where LAPD has primary jurisdiction. The Sheriff’s Department was not invited by LAPD to provide services of any kind at the Boardwalk, and Sheriff Villanueva’s actions will only prolong the time it takes to move individuals into housing, an outcome that does not serve anyone in the community, housed or unhoused.


LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
LA County District Attorney George Gascon
LA County Public Defender Ricardo Garcia
LA County Alternate Public Defender Erika Anzoategui
LA City Councilman Mike Bonin
LA Homeless Services Authority
Safe Place for Youth
United Way of Greater Los Angeles
Venice Catholic Worker
Venice Community Housing Corporation
Venice Equity Alliance
Venice Family Clinic
Venice Justice Committee

Joint Statement Regarding Clearing the Venice Boardwalk 

June 23, 2021

This week, the LA County Sheriff & others unfamiliar with Venice and its unhoused residents held press events on the Venice Boardwalk calling for the forced displacement and criminalization of unhoused people in order to “clean up” the Boardwalk.

Time and time again, this approach has proven to fail in LA, and cause harm to people already dealing with crisis, trauma. While the Sheriff claimed his team would engage in outreach for a few weeks before clearing the area by the 4th of July, his outreach team is not connected to the housing and service organizations in Venice and there are nowhere near enough resources, unfortunately, to house everyone in three weeks. Additionally, outreach connected to threats of enforcement and displacement only further isolates most people who have been pushed around from the streets to shelters to jail and back to the streets for years.

Everyone can see the housing and humanitarian crisis in our neighborhood and in our region. While exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, it is the result of decades of disinvestment in affordable housing and other critical resources, systemic racism in land use policies, housing, employment and mass incarceration policies, and growing income and wealth inequality. Not one politician, one law enforcement official, one non-profit, one neighborhood group is going to suddenly have the ability to solve this crisis because it’s summer and people think that tourists, visitors and local housed and unhoused people are unable to share the beautiful and inclusive space of Venice Beach.

Our collective community will work to provide emergency services, secure, preserve and build more housing, and stand in solidarity to protect the rights of unhoused folks, & hope that anyone interested in helping alleviate homelessness in Venice and beyond joins the effort from a human-centered, social justice framework.

Joint Statement from:
Grass Roots Neighbors
Safe Place for Youth
Venice Black, Indigenous and People of Color Elders
Venice Community Housing
Venice Family Clinic
Venice Justice Committee

Ending youth homelessness requires the involvement of a multitude of stakeholders: public and private service providers, county systems representatives, policymakers, researchers, funders, coalitions, community members and volunteers. Safe Place for Youth recognizes that youth who access our services need us to be their voice of change at the city, county, state and federal level. Our Executive Director and Director of Housing Advocacy participate as members and leaders of multiple advocacy groups across LA County working on advancing public policy that is responsive to the needs of youth.

Additionally, SPY's youth advocacy panel, "SPY Squad" meets weekly to communally address the issues that matter to them most. This work includes awareness around issues facing unhoused youth (such as affordable housing options and the need for employment opportunities), and advocating for appropriate solution to end youth homelessness at conferences locally and nationwide.

Leadership and Coalitions:

  • Westside Homeless Youth Partners (WHYP)​, Convener​
  • Los Angeles Coalition to End Youth Homelessness (LACEYH), ​Tri-Chair ​and Steering Committee member
  • Westside Coalition, Board Member
  • Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership (HHYP), Member
  • National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness​, Presenter​
  • West Coast Convening​, Presenter​
  • Coordinated Entry System Policies and Procedures, Member
  • Department of Mental Health Service Area Advisory Committee (SAAC5)​, Participant and Steering Committee
  • Service Planning Area (SPA) 5 Adult Coordinated Entry System​, Participant
  • Westside Mental Health Committee​, Participant