Homelessness in Los Angeles has risen sharply over the past few years, climbing from 36,000 in 2012 to more than 53,000 in 2018. Unlike other parts of the country where most of the unhoused live in shelters, the vast majority of L.A.’s homeless population (75%) lives on the street. This has led to thousands of encampments in and around the city, including our own Campbell Hall neighborhood. Passover and Easter weekend seems a fitting time to consider the plight of our local neighbors experiencing homelessness from a holistic perspective.
The people experiencing homelessness under the 101 freeway bridge on Laurel Canyon have been a cause of some concern, both for the safety of our students and for the well-being of those living under these difficult conditions. High School Chaplain Joey Courtney, my wife Katie Bull, and others have been working diligently with local and city officials, and organized a meeting this wi∂nter with school administrators, chaplains, Parents’ Association leadership, representatives from L.A. City Councilmember Paul Krekorian’s Office, and Senior Lead Police Officer Shawn Smith, to discuss the housing crisis in our school neighborhood. As we learned, this is a complex issue that does not have a straightforward solution. Due to the shortage of shelters in Los Angeles and utter lack of beds in the San Fernando Valley, there are very few options for many of our city’s vulnerable homeless population.
Our students’ security and health remain our primary concern and we are working closely with our local police force to monitor the situation. As you have no doubt noticed, the police do clear out encampments every few weeks, and they try, as their busy schedules allow, to enforce laws regarding blocking sidewalks, aggressive panhandling, and sleeping on the streets. Members of the LA HOP team stop by from time to time to provide a range of services to the encampments, and Chaplain Courtney connects with them occasionally. While the group camping currently has completed housing assessments with L.A. Family Housing, there is an extremely long waiting list.
As always, there are teachable moments here for our children. We recommend that you do not give panhandlers money or food, which only encourages more to overlook the horrible risks of camping on such a busy street. Instead, volunteer for food banks and other programs and educate your students on the broader issues surrounding homelessness, including the need for shelters in every Los Angeles neighborhood. Support Councilman Krekorian’s plan to build temporary bridge housing in our district, following Measure HHH which was passed by 77% of Los Angeles voters in 2016; if our response to such initiatives is, “not in my backyard,” then those camping under our bridge will continue to have nowhere to go. Many people experiencing homelessness in our communities are families and seniors. If you happen to be a landlord, you can help ease this burden by joining the county’s rental assistance program which helps with the costs of moving these families by providing rent subsidies. The Campbell Hall Outreach Committee has formed a sub-committee on homelessness. If you would like to join the committee, please contact Chaplain Joey Courtney.
Finally, please join us for HomeWalk on May 18. We have formed team “Campbell Hall Vikings” and we look forward to having fun while raising money for an important cause.
This weekend especially, may we all treasure the fact that we have been offered such a nourishing spiritual home. From that place of hope and safety, all is possible.
The Rev. Canon Julian P. Bull is the third head of school of Campbell Hall (est. 1944), an Episcopal school in Los Angeles, California with 1130 students in grades K-12. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, his Master’s in Philosophy from Boston College, and his Master’s in Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary. Canon Bull is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church.
Prior to coming to Campbell Hall in 2003, Rev. Bull served as Head of Trinity Episcopal School in New Orleans and as the Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, Dean of Students, Chair of the Diversity Committee, and Director of the Senior Humanities Program at Albuquerque Academy. He has served on the Boards of the National Association of Episcopal Schools, the Independent School Association of the Southwest, St. James’ Episcopal School, the Louisiana Children’s Museum, the Steering Committee for the Los Angeles School Heads, the Studio City Neighborhood Council, and has chaired the last two search committees for bishops of Los Angeles. He currently serves as the Chair of the Commission on Schools of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and is on the Advisory Board of the Collaborative for Spirituality in Education. He and his wife Katie have enjoyed raising their two sons as 13-year Campbell Hall students. Rev. Bull enjoys tennis, hiking, and playing bridge in his spare time.
4533 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Studio City, CA 91607 Phone 818.980.7280
Campbell Hall is an independent, Episcopal, K-12 all gender day school. We are a community of inquiry committed to academic excellence and to the nurturing of decent, loving, and responsible human beings.
Nondiscriminatory Policy as to Students Campbell Hall admits students of any race, color, gender, sexual orientation, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, national, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletics and other school-administered programs.