Everyone in Venice has spotted Shayla at one time or another: making her rounds to 3rd and Rose, Ocean Front Walk, the Venice Library, and the Venice Skill Center. Shayla has been homeless since 2007, the first few years spent in Las Vegas, and the remaining in Venice Beach. She readily explains to everyone she meets that her over elaborate dress and mouth covering is necessary because she is a “germophobic”. Shayla has a friendly disposition, but has always been service resistant, refusing housing even through her bouts of cancer and mental health issues. On a number of occasions, The LAPD Homeless Task Force has interacted with Shayla during their morning deployments, offering her services and words of encouragement.
Over time, Shayla and Chaplain Regina gained a trusting relationship, and last week she accepted Regina’s offer to move into SHARE! collaborative housing. Shayla had the funds to move in with her monthly benefits from SSI. A SHARE! housing specialist searched the database to find a good match for Shayla and located a home in Los Angeles. Prior to driving to the new place, Shayla removed her head and mouth covering and a first layer of clothing.
When the homeowner explained the house rules to Shayla and gave her a key to the front door, Shayla paused in disbelief, staring at the key, repeatedly questioning the new object in her hand, and asking the homeowner to reassure her that this was in fact her very own key and her new home. That day Shayla entered a new life of safety and stability, away from the streets of Venice. She stated that she was looking forward to buying a pretty key chain.