Converted Office Space in Van Nuys Serves as Dorms for Homeless

A dormitory style housing unit above a pawn shop in Van Nuys was home to eight people who were looking for a fresh start and a way off the streets. 

They all formerly lived either in motels, shelters, tents, or out of their cars and moved into the old office space that was turned into residential units. Each dorm came with a microwave, bed and lamp and a kitchen and bathrooms with shower stalls were down the hall. 

Besides the air conditioning going out during a heat wave, the tenants felt comfortable in their new space. 

Then one day, a tenant filed a complaint and a building inspector came through the building. The inspector claimed the construction work that turned the office space into residential units was not approved and there were no permits to do so. The dorms were allegedly being illegally rented out to the residents and the inspector said no one should be living in the building. 

LA Family Housing, who is the organization that obtained financial assistance to help pay for the tenants rent, is now working to make sure the tenants do not end up back on the streets by offering up motel rooms as a temporary option. One tenant said on her lease agreement, the full rent was listed at $1,150 per month. 

The property management company, TMG Investment, is starting the process of applying for the certificate of occupancy that was not previously on record, but the whole process could take months. 

LA Family Housing spokeswoman Andrea Johnson said the organization is the designated service provider and housing locator for homeless adults and families in the San Fernando Valley and the organization’s housing locators are tasked with verifying ownership and habitability. But they do not check for a building’s certificate of occupancy.

Read what some of the tenants had to say about their situation and see the pictures at the LA Daily News.

Photo: Getty Images

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