First 'Bridge Home' Temporary Homeless Shelter in L.A. Set to Open

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The first homeless people offered beds in a new program to construct temporary shelters in each Los Angeles City Council district are expected to move into their new accommodations at the El Pueblo Historical Monument today.

The shelter is set up to house 45 people in three trailers on a city-owned parking lot, with two additional trailers for hygiene services and space for the on-site service workers. The residents were chosen from among the homeless already living on streets in the area.

“The folks who are moving into this site are ready to put in the time it takes to heal, and they know that this is a place where they'll be able to get back on their feet and move on to a permanent home,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a news conference at the site last week.

City Council President Herb Wesson said the housing will allow the homeless to “believe that they too can have a second chance, a chance at being normal.”

The “Bridge Home” program was first announced by Garcetti during his State of the City speech in April as a new front in the fight against homelessness, which has grown by about 75 percent over the last six years. The 2018 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found that more than 31,000 people are homeless in the city, including more than 23,000 living without shelter, which were both slight drops from the previous year.

The shelters are intended as a temporary solution to the problem while the city builds thousands of permanent supportive units approved in 2016 by city voters through Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure. The temporary shelters will help transition homeless people off the street and into permanent housing, along with providing them access to supportive services, including addiction counseling, Garcetti and other leaders have said.

The bridge program was approved by the City Council this year, which freed up $20 million in budget funds for the 2017-18 fiscal year for temporary homeless shelters. There is also an additional $10 million in budget funds that could be used for shelters. The city is also expecting to receive $85 million from the state as a one-time emergency grant for homeless programs, some of which could be used for the Bridge Home program, including $20 million just for Skid Row, where an estimated 2,000 people sleep in the street each night.

A total of $2.7 million was budgeted for the El Pueblo site, but city officials have estimated the final cost could come down to $2.4 million.

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