Courier Fact-Checks Caitlyn Jenner About Homelessness in Beverly Hills

On June 4, California Republican gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner decried the state of the homelessness crisis in California by pointing to Beverly Hills.  

“When you drive in Beverly Hills and you look at the park, and there’s tents in the park, we have to look at that issue very seriously,” the former Olympian said in an interview with Fox LA. “But to be honest with you on a big picture, living in a tent in a park in Beverly Hills, it’s just different today. Before, the homeless were all downtown. I’m sure you’ve been downtown. I mean, you walk down there, and it’s just like so tough, so difficult on these people.”

To many in the city, Jenner’s comments came as a surprise–mainly because they were false, they say.

“There are no homeless encampments in the City of Beverly Hills that I’m aware of within our parks, business district or residential areas,” Human Services Administrator Jim Latta, who heads the city’s efforts to provide services to unhoused people, told the Courier. 

He added, “Sometimes individuals will attempt to sleep in an alley or outside a business, but when that happens, I would encourage folks to call our Homeless Outreach Team at 310-487-0313. For the Business Triangle we have the Beverly Hills Ambassador Team and they can be reached at 424-302-1487.”

The 2020 homeless count found only 19 unhoused persons in Beverly Hills, compared to 112 in West Hollywood, 184 in Westwood, and 216 in Culver City. Latta said that the city has seen more homeless individuals during the day in the last year, but he says it is difficult to identify just one cause.

“Certainly, there are issues with our legal system, not enough affordable housing and extremely limited access to inpatient mental health and outpatient services. Many shelters have been under quarantine, or have limited capacity due to COVID-19,” he said.

But this increase has not led to any stable tent encampments within Beverly Hills, in part because of a no camping ordinance within the city. The city marries this deterrent strategy with a proactive approach to offering services “to help those who want assistance and set limits with those who aren’t interested.”

While the Courier did not observe any tents within the city on a recent survey of its parks, Jenner may have mistakenly believed an encampment on one of the Burton Way medians to be in Beverly Hills. The median actually falls in Los Angeles. According to Los Angeles Police Department Lieutenant Andrew Myers, the department has received multiple calls by L.A. residents about the encampment.

Jenner’s comments come as she campaigns for the position currently held by Governor Gavin Newsom. Even though Jenner has received the lion’s share of the coverage among the crowded field of Republican contenders, a Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll released last month put the celebrity candidate at 6%. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and businessperson John Cox carried the poll with 22% each.

But all of them face an uphill battle to oust Newsom in a state that favored him over Cox in 2018 by roughly 24 points. A poll conducted by Public Policy Institute of California found that nearly six in 10 likely voters say they would keep Newsom in a recall election. Respondents to the poll also gave Newsom high marks for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I can’t speak to what the Governor should do or not do,” Latta said, “but I long for a mental health system of care where individuals can get the help and support they need.” 

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