Dealing with West Hollywood’s homeless population came up during the candidates . Rightly so, given the issue is resting right at the incumbents' doorstep.
Mayor , who has served on the since 1984, said he routinely worked with the homeless advocacy group People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), helping to identify people most vulnerable and getting them into shelters.
The next time Heilman feels in the mood to help homeless people, he need look no further than outside his own campaign headquarters.
Even as the nine candidates for the three City Council seats up for election on March 8 were addressing the homeless question in auditorium, three homeless people were sleeping on the pavement outside the campaign headquarters of Heilman, and at (site of the ).
For years, the location has been a favorite camping stop for homeless people. Ever since the CVS drugstore vacated the shopping center on Santa Monica Boulevard at Poinsettia Drive, homeless people have been spotted sleeping there nightly.
On Jan. 26, three homeless people were spotted sleeping in front of the headquarters even while volunteers were still inside working on the campaign.
The next night, West Hollywood counted its homeless population and were living within the city limits. Land was even there to see the workers doing the count. No word on whether she tipped them off to stop by her campaign headquarters as they made their rounds looking for the city’s homeless.
A few nights after that, the number of homeless spotted there was up to six. And then a few nights later, they all disappeared. Not a single homeless person was spotted making his or her bed on the cement in front of the Heilman-Horvath-Land headquarters for approximately a two-week period of time.
But the night of the second debate, the homeless were back at Movietown Plaza sleeping in front of campaign headquarters. And two days later, on Feb. 18 about 5 p.m., as showers drenched the region, a group of homeless congregated outside the headquarters main door seeking shelter from the rain while campaign volunteers were busy inside working to get the trio re-elected.
"We've been working with the county to identify the most vulnerable homeless individuals in the city of West Hollywood," Heilman said at the candidates forum, adding that the city's new model is to discern homeless individuals and get them into shelters as quickly as possible.
"Many of these individuals have substance abuse problems as well as mental health problems and it's very difficult to reach them and to get them to accept some of these services,” Heilman said, “but we need to continue to do that."
Here’s a tip in case Heilman, Horvath and Land need any help in identifying the homeless: If someone is sleeping on the sidewalk in front of your campaign headquarters on a 45 degree night, it’s a safe bet they’re homeless.
Given the , perhaps they could even put those homeless up in one of the city’s luxury hotels on the —say the or the . At least until after the election.
Tuesday is the last day to register for the March 8 election. for more election information.