L.A. City Council Approves Downtown Emergency Homeless Shelter

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The City Council approved the finalization of a property lease today that clears the way for an emergency homeless shelter to be opened in the downtown Los Angeles area.

Councilman Jose Huizar introduced a motion last month calling for the 115-bed shelter at 1426 Paloma St. He said it could be opened within three months, becoming the third facility to be operational under Mayor Eric Garcetti's A Bridge Home program, which aims to open a temporary shelter in every City Council district while the city works to build more permanent supportive housing through a $1.2 billion bond measure approved by city voters in 2016.

``Downtown Los Angeles is the epicenter of Los Angeles' homelessness crisis,'' Huizar said earlier this week. ``By working with the mayor and the county, we're helping more people get off the streets and into shelter with supportive services, while long-term housing is built through Measure HHH.''

The ``Bridge Home'' program was announced by Garcetti during his State of the City speech last April as a new front in the fight against homelessness. 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 after years of increases.

The Paloma site south of Skid Row will be leased by the city for three years at a cost of around $1.3 million, according to Huizar's motion.

The 2018 Homeless Count identified about 700 homeless people living without shelter in the industrial area from Seventh to 21st streets between Maple Avenue and Alameda Street, Huizar's office said.

Under the Bridge Home program, the county pays for support services at the emergency sites.

``Bridge housing is an urgently needed resource for the 11,000 women experiencing homelessness in the city of L.A. A recent survey of women experiencing homelessness in Skid Row found that 90 percent had experienced some form of physical or sexual violence, many on a regular basis,'' Chloe Rome, spokeswoman for the Downtown Women's Shelter, said earlier this week. ``The longer these women are forced to spend their nights on the streets of our city, the longer these horrific conditions will continue for them.''

The Paloma Street site was identified when the property owner, Michael Kaboud, approached the county about using part of his facility for homeless housing, Huizar's office said. The site is currently a clothing warehouse, and the property owner will continue to operate an adjacent portion of the building for his business.

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