For decades, Mary’s Kitchen has been serving three meals a day, six days a week to needy individuals in Orange, a city about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
It is the only homeless services organization in a city of 135,000. The nonprofit also provides showers and laundry facilities, receives mail for hundreds of people, and lends financial support to help those get back on their feet.
But despite its deep roots in the community and amid the state’s housing and homeless crisis, Mary’s Kitchen is getting evicted from its property. The city is terminating its lease with the organization three years early, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Founded in 1984 by Mary McAnena, the group has operated at its current spot at 517 W. Struck Avenue — on city-owned land — since 1994. The city says it is canceling the lease because of an increase in crime associated with the nonprofit, according to the report.
The city’s letter claims Mary’s Kitchen only serves “to enable homelessness and can no longer be supported by the city,” and that the organization has created an “unreasonable demand on city services.”
Mary’s Kitchen has three months to move out, according to the letter. The city declined to provide evidence that the operation led to increased crime in the area, the Times noted.
The nonprofit hired attorney Brooke Weitzman to fight the action. In a letter to the city, Weitzman wrote that officials failed to provide a valid reason to evict. Mary’s Kitchen is collecting signatures to help its cause and some local residents also attended a recent City Council meeting to express their support for the organization.
When reached by The Real Deal, a spokesperson for the city would not comment.
[LAT] — Dennis Lynch