DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The first in a series of temporary homeless shelters was unveiled in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday.
In a news conference, Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the shelter will open Sept. 10 on a city-owned parking lot near the El Pueblo Historical Monument, at 711 N. Alameda St. in the Chinatown area.
The shelter will house about 45 people in three trailers, with two additional trailers for hygiene services and space for the on-site service workers. It will remain in place for at least three years.
“I’ve met these people,” Garcetti said. “There’s not a group called the homeless. They’re individuals, with their own stories of hardship, of hope, and now, of help.”
The site will be run by the nonprofit group The People Concern, and will include mental, healthcare and substance abuse services, the mayor’s office said, along with a community garden and pet relief area. It will also offer three meals a day.
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. It was designed pro-bono by the M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates architecture firm.
For months, L.A. city officials have been searching for solutions to the city’s growing homeless crisis. The El Pueblo shelter is part of the mayor’s controversial “A Bridge Home” initiative, which he announced in April. Under the initiative, at least two dozen locations have been proposed as possible sites for temporary shelters.
One of those sites, a lot in Koreatown, was met with waves of intense protest from residents over the past several months. In June, in the face growing opposition, the L.A. City Council voted unanimously to study the possibility of a different site for that shelter.
The bridge program was approved by the L.A. City Council this year and includes $20 million in budget funds for the 2018-19 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.
In November 2016, L.A. city voters passed Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure to fund permanent housing for the homeless, but the units will take years to approve and build.
In March 2017, L.A. County voters adopted Measure H, a quarter-cent Los Angeles County sales tax to fund anti-homelessness programs. It is meant to generate $355 million annually for 10 years to fund a variety of programs to combat homelessness. Last month, a report found that more than 7,400 homeless people in L.A. County have attained permanent housing thanks to Measure H.
The L.A. Homeless Services Authority’s annual count in January found 52,765 homeless living in the county, marking a 4 percent drop from the year before. This came after a 23 percent jump the year before.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)