By Ashley Beasley
The spirit of Venice was alive and well Saturday night at the “Sleep Out,” an event held to raise awareness of the homelessness issues in Venice.
Steve Clare, Executive Director of the Venice Community Housing Corporation who hosted the event wants to send a clear message to politicians that police harassment and marginalization is not going to solve the homeless problem here.
“We need more shelters and transitional housing,” Clare said, and sighted that one out of every 32 people in Venice is homeless, a staggering statistic that makes this problem particularly relevant for Venetians.
When Clare moved to Venice in the 1960’s, what he found was an inclusive, diverse, welcoming community. Venice has always been known for being compassionate to its residents, even the homeless ones.
The issue very much included the controversy of recent city parking laws forbidding RV’s to park overnight. Some say this is yet another way to marginalize homeless people, like Eveline Popp, otherwise known as the Doll Lady.
Popp, 80-years-old, was forbidden to sleep in her only home, her RV. She now says she has nowhere to live.
To acknowledge that homelessness is a multi-cultural issue that includes Latinos, Paula Cruz Takash explained, President of the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission and MC for the event.
“Many of these homeless are Spanish speaking,” Cruz said, and Chanel 34 is here to help people acknowledge that.
Cardborigami is the name of a temporary housing solution Hovespian created that can be used as disaster relief or for the urban homeless. The actual shelters she displayed were as big as a 4-person tent and could be folded small enough to put in a backpack.
Even though the community has changed a lot in the last 50 years, Clare still believes in the spirit of Venice. He believes it still has that spark and wants people to feel the same way he did when he first came here, welcomed and included.