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Santa Monica : Homeless Aid Weighed

A group of residents who use the city’s computer network--which was designed to improve community access to local government--persuaded the City Council Tuesday to consider a proposal to aid the homeless.

The council voted unanimously to have city staff study the proposal, which includes increased access to showers, access to laundry facilities, lockers and a job referral bank.

The proposal, coined SHWASHLOCK, for showers, washers and lockers, was first advanced by Arts Foundation Director Bruria Finkel but was reshaped in the last nine months after users of the city’s Public Electronic Network (PEN) both criticized and lauded the proposal via their computer terminals. Finkel is married to City Councilman David Finkel.

The group asked the council to open city shower facilities earlier in the morning so that homeless people with jobs could bathe before going to work. They also requested $1,000 for lockers.

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The PEN users group also wants the council to help in developing the job listing service, possibly through the PEN system itself, where employers could post jobs specially suited for homeless. PEN is accessible from computers at public libraries and at City Hall as well as from home computers.

Michele A. Wittig, who brought the users-group proposals before the council Tuesday night, lauded PEN for making the suggestions a public process. “Without PEN, we would not have been able to develop our proposal in as public a manner as we have,” she said. “Everything was scrutinized.”


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