Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

CD13 Homeless Director Patrick Mooney Outlines District’s Approach to Homelessness

CD 13 Homeless Director Patrick Mooney, and Nick Barnes Batista, CD 13 Communications Deputy, talked with Buzz Co-Publishers Patty Lombard and Elizabeth Fuller last week.

There seems to be general consensus these days that homelessness is the most urgent problem facing our city.  In last year’s elections, many campaigns succeeded or failed on how candidates addressed this issue.  One candidate who succeeded with his message of the need for a fresh approach to combating homelessness was Hugo Soto-Martinez, who won election to represent District 13 on the City Council for the next four years.  Last week, about five months after Soto-Martinez took office, Buzz co-publishers Patty Lombard and Liz Fuller checked in CD 13’s new Homelessness Director Patrick Mooney to talk about how the district has organized its new staff to address homelessness, how to best report new encampments (and what happens after those reports), and why he is optimistic about the future.

How CD 13 Approaches Homeless Services

According to Mooney, CD 13 has three staff members – himself and Homelessness Deputies Kylie Jansen and Michael Batistick – who work full time on the issue.  Their goal, said Mooney, is to respond to people in need of services, help bring more housing online, work with different service providers, and break down the “silos” between different providers to align their efforts to work effectively as a team. And Mooney says the office now tries to lead with these service providers, many of whom have been working the streets for many years, while the District staff supports their work.

How to Bring Services to a New Encampment or Homeless Individual

Mooney said there are two steps people should take to report a new encampment in their neighborhood or someone on the street who needs services.

First, he said, it’s best to contact him, Jensen or Batistick at the CD 13 office, so they can add the encampment to their map and start making contact. At the same time, though, it’s also good to file an initial report with the LA County Homeless Outreach Program through its website at

During the first two weeks after receiving a request, Mooney said, both a CD 13 deputy and someone from LA-HOP will visit the individual or encampment to meet the resident(s), learn their names, and find out whether or not they are already connected to any city or county services. (And if they can’t find the person, Mooney said, they’ll try at least two more times before closing out the request.)

Mooney said the CD 13 approach starts with something called Motivational Intervention (or “MI” for short), which offers options to the person in need instead of dictating any sort of action. This approach, Mooney said, builds trust by allowing the individual to make their own choices about shelter and services, which helps them feel empowered instead of coerced, and thus more likely to accept a specific approach.

Finally, Mooney noted that it’s common for neighbors to report an issue more than once if they don’t see something happening right away, or for multiple neighbors to report an encampment, hoping it will create additional urgency and lead to faster action.  Unfortunately, though, Mooney said that doesn’t really help.  Just one report to the city, and one to the County, is enough to get the ball rolling, while 10 separate reports from 10 separate people can just bog down the intake system.

How Long Does It Take to See Results After Initial Reports are Made?

Mooney said that while requests for homeless services are logged immediately, it does take a while for the city’s process to play out and for progress to be visible to the casual observer.

For example, he said, for the first week or two after a report comes in, both CD 13 and LA-HOP make their initial visits – sometimes several of them – to assess the situation and start building trust with the individual(s) in question, which can take a while.

Also, even if and when a person does accept an offer of shelter or other services, Mooney said there is currently a huge shortage of shelter beds, and it can take a while to find an appropriate placement – so even if the person is willing to relocate, it doesn’t mean an immediate move off the street. (Currently, Mooney said, CD 13 has 400 temporary housing units, and 300 crisis beds for 3,000 unhoused people…and at the moment, only one of those beds is empty, with a match already pending.) The goal, Mooney said, is not just to get people off a particular street corner, but to get them into stable, long-term housing to keep them off the street for good, rather than just moving them from place to place.

In the meantime, while these processes play out, Mooney said both city and county staff continue to visit the site and stay in touch, attempting to get the person food and documentation if they need it, and doing things like scheduling trash pickups at the site, either once or regularly.

Mooney said this kind of careful, cooperative process helps to avoid further traumatizing people who have often suffered too many broken promises and do not trust the city or its systems.  Taking a slower, more cooperative approach, he said, builds trust instead of breaking it, and benefits everyone in the long run.

Current Status of Specific Local Encampments

Mooney said encampments near schools are a top priority for CD 13, and that includes the one currently located near Larchmont Charter and Selma Elementary Schools, which has received a lot of recent media attention.  (LAPD officers were even at the site during the last few weeks of the school year, in response to neighbors’ complaints, but Mooney said they were there simply to observe and not take any specific actions.)

Mooney said Jensen is working with residents at this encampment, and she’s currently getting to know the people there, building trust, and bringing in various service providers.  The Council office is also working to remove drugs from the area, and bringing in LA Sanitation twice a week to keep trash cleaned up.  The goal, Mooney said, is to house the individuals living there (and to have the encampment fully removed) by the time school resumes in August.  “I feel like we’re in a very good place to get it done,” Mooney said.

Meanwhile, CD 13 staff are also in contact with the individuals who have set up tents near Wilton and Raleigh, a location that was much discussed at a recent town hall meeting.  Mooney said the individual living at that location was unreceptive to the city’s initial contact efforts, especially after a “weaponized” sweep of the area, but the person has now agreed to weekly trash collection, and is even helping by setting trash out for city pickup…while other service providers are working to find housing for the individual.  “It’s slow, progress, but it’s progress,” said Mooney.  And he said it’s much better than just forcing the person to move…because that would just push them to another nearby encampment (like the one near Larchmont Charter), or they might disappear and be unreachable if and when a housing voucher does finally become available.

How You Can Help

Mooney said it can be very helpful for local residents to get involved with efforts to help the homeless, if only just to see the situation first hand.  Volunteers are welcome at many of the service providers, he said, such as SELAH, PATH, The Center in Hollywood, various churches and other faith-based organizations, and more…and many of them also welcome donations of cash, along with things like food, clothing, and other goods.

Also, if there’s just one thing people can do, just once a year, to make a difference, Mooney said, it’s to help out with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA)‘s annual homeless count in January.  “One night.  That’s all you have to do,” he said.  The count helps determine state and federal funding for various groups and agencies addressing homelessness over the coming year, and it, too, gives volunteers a brief chance to see the problem firsthand.  “Understanding the issue is a great way to get involved,” said Mooney.

Cause for Optimism

Results from this year’s homeless count won’t be released until later this summer, so we won’t know until then if the this year’s numbers are up or down overall, but while progress is often slow, Mooney also said there are several things that make him optimistic for the situation in CD 13 right now.

First, he said, having a new LA County Supervisor (Lindsey Horvath), a new City Councilmember (Hugo Soto-Martinez), and a new Mayor this year have provided new energy and new momentum to tweak and improve the existing system for addressing homelessness.  For example, he said, there used to be only one person in the CD 13 office working half time on homelessness, but now there are three people working full time…and they’re working harder to bring lots of different agencies in the area – such as SELAH, Hollywood 4WRD, the Hollywood Food Coalition, and more – to the table work together in a coordinated manner.  “We want the silos gone,” he said.

Also, Mooney said, another goal is to bring more housing options online as fast as possible, including identifying available parcels and negotiating contracts for things like safe parking/camping areas, as well as new shelter options, tiny homes, and more.  “That is one of my many goals,” he said.

Mooney says that when he started working with homeless service providers five years ago, in the Echo Park area, he was only able to offer those in need a cot at a South Central shelter, and – if they were willing to take it – he’d have to drive them there himself.  And if the shelter was full when they arrived, he’d have to drive the person back to their place on the street.  Now, though, said Mooney, there are 700 shelter beds actually located in CD 13, which weren’t there five years ago…and that’s great progress. Also, he said, Mayor Bass’ new Inside Safe program adds to the efforts of other ongoing programs, which helps, too.

Of course, he said, there will always be hiccups and growing pains with any new programs…and we still need to work out more master leases for hotels and other large buildings to make even more shelter and permanent beds available.  Also, he said the various service providers are still under-staffed, and need to hire more people to handle the increased case loads. But all in all, he said, we do have more beds now than we’ve had in the past, and more of our homeless residents are sheltered now. So Mooney says he is actually encouraged and more determined than ever to keep working until all Angelenos are housed.  “I’m here to knock this down,” he says. “I am here to work myself out of a job.”


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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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  1. Patrick Mooney says he prioritizes encampments at schools, but in fact, CD13’s priorities are clear. The CD13 office cleaned out a homeless encampment overnight along the pride parade route – just in time for the parade. It’s more important for the sidewalks to be accessible for a parade than for school children.

    Their lack of concern for kids in our public schools and their refusal to comply with laws (the ADA and 41.18 specifically) is breathtaking. When asked why they couldn’t move the encampment about 90 feet so that it bordered a fenced off parking lot instead of a school – just while the campers waited out the process of finding housing – Patrick Mooney had no reply. The silence is deafening.

    • Ugh, I’ve visited that encampment too Laura, as you know. That encampment remains but we were assured in our meeting the other day with Patrick & Hollywood LAPD that encampment will be removed by August 1 when school returns. Patrick explains he has a plan A & B to ensure that it happens. Your next challenge Laura & the parents/faculty there will be how to prevent encampments from returning to that park area. Such a lovely park, hoping once its cleared neighbors & children will be able to use that park too.

      Turns out there are several schools with encampments nearby, yes I’ve been contacted by parents & faculty asking for help. Not much I can do other than have a look myself and send photos to Patrick and others.
      Been meeting with Patrick and others weekly lately, it’s a challenge! We have to do better. One encampment near me was removed last night, it burned down. Now the ‘camper’ is breaking into the empty home there and moving in. There’s no end in sight.


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