‘Homeless Connect’ Fair Coming to Malibu

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Malibu United Methodist Church is the birthplace of Community Assistance Resource Team (CART).

Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority announced that rates of homelessness in the L.A. area are up from last year. Malibu-based, months-old grassroots Community Assistance Resource Team (CART) continues to try to provide resources and information to the homeless and residents interested in helping, including investigating the benefits of providing housing to homeless and other programs that could help the homeless population in Malibu.

The group met last week with more than 10 county agencies and nonprofit organizations to learn what resources are available for helping the city’s homeless.

Molly Rysman, deputy with County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s office, was responsible for organizing the multi-agency meeting with CART. “We wanted to bring the resources here so people know how to connect with them — county, nonprofit and public agencies. Very few (if any) of these agencies have a footprint in Malibu now,” she said.

With the recent closure of The Artifac Tree, which operated in Malibu for over 40 years, providing homeless people clothes, shoes, bedding, bus fare, and more, services offered in Malibu are now limited. 

In addition, plans were furthered for a “Malibu Homeless Connect” fair event sometime during the week of Oct. 26, with representatives from these agencies available to help homeless individuals and provide information to interested residents.

CART is in the process of exploring ongoing services for the homeless, and views the possibility of a fair and the creation of a list of service providers as the first steps toward a longer-term solution. 

Deputy Mike Treinen of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station has been specially trained to deal with the homeless and has come to know many of the long-timers in Malibu.

“A lot of these guys aren’t going to want any help,” he said. “Some of them have lived in Tuna Canyon for 10-15 years. I build a relationship and rapport with them, and find out how we can help them. A lot of them, when they have their proper medication, are a completely different person.”

Rev. Sandy Liddell of Malibu United Methodist Church told agencies present at the CART meeting, “We want to learn how we can compassionately respond to peoples’ needs with limited resources. [Homeless] people are coming to this church more and more for help with food, kids and finding jobs. It continues to increase and we have people needing assistance at all times.”

The largest of all such agencies is the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, run jointly by the City and County of Los Angeles. Besides doling out millions of dollars in funding to nonprofit organizations throughout the L.A. County area, they also have their own emergency response teams. The teams reach out to homeless encampments, as well as individuals living on the streets or in cars, and try to get them to accept a variety of services, including housing, shelters, substance abuse help, or medical assistance. 

During the CART meeting, Essie Landry of the Social Security Administration explained how homeless individuals could sometimes qualify for Supplemental Social Security income, especially if they’re a veteran with certain service dates or a youth transitioning out of foster care. Homeless with “physical or mental impairments” may qualify for Social Security Disability payments — depending on their work history and doctor’s statements. In addition, some may be eligible for medical coverage through Medi-Cal or Medicare. 

The L.A. County Department of Mental Health is also involved in homeless services.  Maureen Cyr, supervising psychiatric social worker for the West L.A. area, said in a previous meeting that their outreach team does “mobile triage on individuals with serious mental illness.” They also coordinate with other agencies to find housing for the mentally ill. Their expansion of services was made possible by the Mental Health Services Act.

Nick Holt, also with L.A. County Mental Health, specializes in helping veterans. “I notice Malibu is very underserved,” he said. “It seems like most agencies don’t go beyond Chautauqua” — a street intersecting with Pacific Coast Highway in the Pacific Palisades. Holt has established a relationship with the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriffs and has asked them to be on the lookout for veterans needing services.

Other agencies and organizations present at the meeting include Mother Maria, the Pacific Palisades homeless task force, Richard Bloom’s office, L.A. County Department of Public Health outreach nurses, Santa Monica’s Ocean Park Community Center and St. Joseph Center of Venice. 

All CART meetings are open to the public. For more information, contact Carol Moss at 310.456.3591.