Council candidate Devin Yaeger lays out his plan for the homelessness issue

(Leif Bergerson)

Culver City city council candidate Devin Yaeger, a UCLA law student and an entrepreneur, spoke to the News a month ago about his credentials and what he feels he would bring to the council. He also wanted to clear up the main points of his platform and, unsurprisingly, a focus is on homelessness.

“Individuals trespassing on sidewalks and other public and non-public locations must be removed,” he told the News. “Under my plan they will be relocated to a variety of places:  

Homeless Individuals living on the streets and creek beds of Culver City with serious outstanding warrants, in possession of drugs or weapons, or suspected of violent crimes (e.g., when we clear an encampment we should investigate it thoroughly by questioning “residents”, asking if others present have assaulted them and if they wish to press charges)… these people will be re-housed to jail.”

Rehousing is clearly a priority. “Homeless Individuals who are Culver City locals and who desire to reintegrate into mainstream society will be placed in the new (incredibly expensive) 76-bed Culver City shelter being built at 3868 Sepulveda Blvd and in minimum standard rented rooms in the interim, contingent on obtaining employment within 90 days or proving they are reasonably unable to work and thus deserving of free government-provided housing (i.e. homeless veterans, elderly homeless, severely disabled but sober homeless)”

Wraparound care is vital. “Homeless Individuals who are Culver City locals with drug addictions and/or mental health conditions will be required to go to rehab/detox and/or obtain mental health treatment prior to entering the housing described above. Failure to comply with treatment plans will result in loss of housing privileges provided by the city.”

And finally, there’s the question of safety. “Homeless Individuals who are not from Culver City, that were not caught in possession of drugs/weapons, have no outstanding warrants, and are not under arrest for other newly discovered crimes during the encampment clearing process, will be told to return to their hometowns,” he said. “If they fail to comply, they will be prosecuted for loitering, illegal dumping, public indecency, etc. in order to incentivize them to leave. This places the burden of caring for them on their community. The same harsh consequences will apply to locals who refuse to engage in rehab/detox or fail to obtain jobs within 90 days of being given housing, and end up back on the streets; effectively they will have chosen not to belong to our community any longer, and our burden for caring for them will cease. Likely they will end up in jail or in another community with less sensible values than ours. (Maybe Portland or Seattle?) Ideally all cities take our approach and homeless individuals have no choice but to comply with basic societal expectations of working, paying for food and housing, and consenting to treatment when not well.”

Yaeger said that the reality is, most of this already exists.

“It may sound like I’m suggesting we reinvent the wheel, but I’m not, and if I am, we have the means to do it for OUR local homeless population,” he said. “What has stopped happening in recent years is the law being enforced. This in turn has disincentivized compliance among homeless “patients” or “program participants” and allowed for the chaos we see on the streets today, mostly made up of non-Culver City natives.”

“St. Joseph’s (a nonprofit hired by the city to resolve homelessness issues) estimates there are ~300 homeless in Culver City. (Many believe the figure is far higher),” he added. “We must determine what % of that figure grew up in Culver City or have resided here for 10+ years… my objective is to treat, house, and – where possible – rehabilitate that % of homeless people (the folks in (B.) above, back into tax paying, self-sufficient citizens, and treat/house the truly disabled among them. By doing this we can ethically enforce a ZERO-tolerance policy on homelessness in Culver City.”

All of this must be done, Yaeger said, while considering all of Culver’s residents.

“To effectuate successful treatment and housing schemes for the homeless whom we owe a duty to (Culver City locals), and housed Culver City residents, non-local homeless individuals must be removed from camping on our streets and deterred from returning. Anything short of this is a failure by the local government to uphold its duty to ensure safe public spaces and provide citizens (and even noncitizens) equal protection under the law. No one has the right to block public rights of way, urinate/defecate in public, steal, engage in violence, use hard drugs openly, dump waste, etc. Being of one housing status, just as being of one skin color or gender, should not result in different treatment under the law.”

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