The Ocean Front Walk (OFW) encampment outreach effort in Venice Beach engaged one of the largest encampments in Los Angeles in 2021, serving over 200 encampment residents. OFW was led by St. Joseph Center, a Venice-based nonprofit that acts as the Coordinated Entry System (CES) lead agency for Service Planning Area 5 (SPA 5) on the Westside of Los Angeles County. The report and this brief highlight the successful aspects of this project, as well as its shortcomings, in order to refine the strategies applied to future Encampment to Home encampment resolution efforts.
The OFW project was modeled on theß Encampment to Home pilot project, which took place in two communities in South LA in 2018. These pilots were collaborative efforts between LAHSA, government agencies, outreach workers, service providers, and community members. The Encampment to Home effort differed from other encampment outreach efforts due to its higher level of outreach intensity and, most importantly, dedicated housing slots for engaged encampment residents. Since then, this Encampment to Home model has been replicated across Los Angeles and the state, with Venice’s Ocean Front Walk being one such replication.
Building on the 2018 pilot, in 2021 the six-week OFW project entailed moving people living outdoors on Venice Beach into shelters or housing and onto a path toward permanent housing. OFW outreach focused on building trust among encampment residents and working with them to understand their housing and service needs. St. Joseph staff connected interested participants with an array of readily available housing and services, utilizing Project Roomkey (PRK) motel rooms, non-PRK motel rooms, and permanent housing units to relocate residents indoors.
To examine this project, The Homelessness Policy Research Institute (HPRI) employed a mixed methods approach. The quantitative portion entailed analyzing demographic information and housing referral data from St. Joseph Center and the qualitative part included seven interviews of St. Joseph’s staff members of varying positions and experiences. The quotes included in this brief are drawn from the interviews with St. Joseph Center staff.