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Whittier considers pilot program to add crisis shelter beds

WHITTIER – The Whittier City Council will consider giving the green light on a six-month pilot reserve crisis shelter bed program on Tuesday.

The program would create one to two crisis shelter beds at Whittier First Day, augmenting the number of available beds specifically for individuals in need of immediate shelter. It would be designed to enable specific City personnel to transport and individual willing to accept a shelter bed and able to meet relatively low barrier eligibility criteria to Whittier First Day.

The one to two beds would not resolve the homelessness issue in the city, however, would provide an additional option in specific instances.

There has been continued frustration among many of Whittier’s constituents in regard to how the city has handled – or not handled – the growing homeless epidemic, especially at Parnell Park.

At the core of the matter is the Boise vs. Martin case, which says the city cannot remove homeless individuals from its parks – regardless of closing time or curfew – unless there is a shelter bed available.

Boise is currently challenging the ruling to the Supreme Court, which Whittier has filed a motion in support of.

In the meantime, Whittier remains the seemingly odd-man-out locally in terms of honoring the federal ruling, as most other surrounding cities have taken aggressive or incentivizing measures to push their homeless out of their own boundaries.

Yet, the city maintains that respecting the Boise decision will keep Whittier out of any potential lawsuits.

If approved, the crisis bed program would not accommodate enough individuals to enable the city to enforce camping and curfew regulations within the city.

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