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The Real Deal Los Angeles

First temporary homeless shelter is opening in Downtown

El Pueblo site part of city’s $30M contested effort to tackle homeless crisis
September 06, 2018 03:00PM

City leaders joined to celebrate the opening of the first temporary homeless shelter (Credit: Mayor’s Office)

At least 45 homeless Angelenos will be housed and given living support next week at a temporary shelter near Downtown, in the first installment of the city’s new, heavily-contested homeless assistance program.

The shelters are part of A Bridge Home, a $30 million housing project intended to ease limitations to building shelters so they can be erected on city-owned land. Despite persistent controversy over the larger plan, the city hopes to add 1,500 temporary beds across all 15 council districts through the program, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The first shelter, which will house about 45 people, is scheduled to open Sept. 10 at 711 N. Alameda St. in the El Pueblo District. Gensler, the architecture firm, designed the site pro bono.

Homeless people can stay with their domestic partners or bring pets. They will have bathrooms, showers, laundry facilities and storage facilities. The facilities will be open 24 hours per day. On-site staff will offer health services, case management, and help the residents find permanent housing in three to six months.

The shelters are supposed to shut down after three years. That could be too soon, advocates warn, but staying open indefinitely would be expensive. Costs for the El Pueblo shelter have ballooned to $2.4 million from $2 million.

In January, Garcetti dedicated $20 million to the shelter program while the city council added $10 million. The city also is finalizing its application for more state funds that can be used for shelters, housing and drop centers.

Thirteen sites are currently being reviewed, and others are in the beginning stages. Even with all those sites, Los Angeles won’t have enough beds for the thousands of people living on the streets. The number of homeless residents in the city has grown by almost 50 percent since 2013.

All but two council members have publicly identified possible shelter or storage sites in their districts, mostly on lots owned by the city, Metro or public utilities. The mayor said the city might also convert warehouses and other existing buildings into shelters.

But it has been more difficult than anticipated to execute, as city leaders have struggled to establish where the shelters can be located. Mass demonstrations killed a shelter plan which was originally set to be the program’s first, on public property along Vermont Avenue near Wilshire Boulevard in Koreatown. Brokers and real estate executives told The Real Deal that the plan made developers nervous as well. Protests have also heated up in Venice and other neighborhoods where residents and business owners say it would be too disruptive.

In response, the city has started to examine sites on private property instead. [LAT] — Gregory Cornfield