In addition to its residential population of 85,000, about 7 million people visit Santa Monica annually. Of that 7 million, a number of these visitors come to the community with a definite purpose. They are homeless individuals and families that travel from other parts of the country with the intention of settling in Santa Monica. They are attracted to the city because of its year-round mild climate.
The movement of homeless people from other parts of the country, coupled with the spreading outward of the existing Los Angeles homeless population from downtown LA, has resulted in an increase in the number of homeless encampments in Santa Monica. Those tasked with monitoring homeless encampments in Santa Monica, and the homeless population more generally, do not anticipate a decrease in the rise of homeless encampments in the area any time soon.
Santa Monica Homeless Encampments and the Metrolink
A growing issue with Santa Monica homeless encampments involves issues with Santa Monica Metrolink easements. Individuals and families who congregate in homeless encampments avoid private property whenever they can. The reality is that the Santa Monica Police Department can remove those encamped on private land easier than is the case with other types of property, including certain types of easements.
The news media has reported on the myriad of issues associated with homeless encampments at or on Metrolink and other railway easements. These encampments have resulted in train delays. However, they have also caused far more serious, and even deadly, issues that include:
- Accidental fires
- Damage to Metrolink property
There has been an increase in the number of people who are walking along Metrolink and other railway tracks, including in Santa Monica. Indeed, the number of people walking in this manner who have been killed by oncoming trains has increased significantly in 2018. A significant percentage of these people are homeless, including people residing in homeless encampments at or on Metrolink or other railway easements.
Of course, the death of a person in this type of train accident is tragic. There are other consequences to a homeless pedestrian being hit by a Santa Monica Metrolink train, or other types of train. For example, an entire line shuts down for what can be an extended period of time in the aftermath of the death of a pedestrian after being struck by a train. The LA Coroner must perform a thorough investigation of the scene to collect all evidence. The train corridor will not be up and running again until the coroner completes its investigation.
Homeless Encampment Cleanup in Santa Monica
Santa Monica homeless encampments at locations like Metrolink or other types of easements underscore the need for professional homeless encampment cleanup in Santa Monica. The reality is that a homeless encampment results in the presence of different types of biohazardous substances that can seriously impact the health and welfare of not only residents of an encampment, but the general public. In short speed, a homeless encampment becomes riddled with dangerous substances that include:
- Human feces and urine
- Animal feces and urine
- Blood and bodily fluids
- Used, contaminated needles
- Animal remains
The Future of Santa Monica Homeless Encampments
The Santa Monica homeless population increased by 26 percent from 2016 to 2017. The number of homeless people went from 728 to 921 during that time period. A similar increase is anticipated for the 2017 to 2018 time period, although that data is not yet fully calculated.
About three-quarters of the homeless population in Santa Monica is thought to be unsheltered. Accessibility to shelters is one reason the number of unsheltered individuals and families is at this mark. Although there are homeless shelters located in communities surrounding Santa Monica, these types of resources within the city are more limited.
A high number of homeless people in the city do work. They are employed at jobs within the city. They usually lack any type of reliable transportation and public transport from other communities can be seriously time-consuming. Thus, they stay in the Santa Monica area where they work.
In addition, there are homeless families in the city as well. Parents strive to keep their children in schools they historically have attended. For this reason, they remain unsheltered in Santa Monica in order to stay in reasonably close proximity to the schools their children attend.
OPCC provides an array of services to homeless individuals and families in Santa Monica. The agency can be reached by calling (310) 450-4050.
Image Courtesy of Tyler Merbler.