In Venice there is a widespread consensus about “the homeless problem” among longtime residents, more recent transplants, community leaders and even the homeless themselves: Yes, there is a problem here, and that problem needs to be addressed.
But that’s where agreement tends to stop. Ask Venetians about potential remedies for homelessness and responses can be as multifarious, cacophonous and eccentric as the characters you’d find holding court along the boardwalk on a late summer afternoon.
Fueling discord is that the pervasiveness and visibility of homeless encampments in Venice make the issue a canvass for fed-up homeowners, contrarian activists, community volunteers and the politically ambitious to project their viewpoints and agendas before a regional, even national audience.
The political theater surrounding homelessness in Venice was on full display during a community canvassing effort and counter-protest on Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center on Venice Boulevard.
The offices of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin hosted the training event to prepare more than 100 volunteers to canvass Venice in support of city plans for a 100-bed temporary housing facility on the former Metro bus depot at Main Street and Sunset Avenue. Supporters describe the facility as a “bridge” to permanent housing elsewhere in the city; opponents refer to it as a “homeless shelter” and a magnet for public nuisances.