While the City of Los Angeles is still a long way from solving its housing crisis, or even making a significant dent in the number of people currently living on our streets without permanent shelter, there have been some new steps in the right direction in mid-Los Angeles in the last few weeks.
Koreatown Bridge Housing Site
First, Koreatown neighbors and homeless advocates clashed for several weeks recently over a proposal by City Council President Herb Wesson to place a new “bridge housing” facility (with beds, showers and other services to for up to 85 individuals awaiting placement into more permanent housing) at a city-owned parking lot at 682 S. Vermont. But city officials announced this week that they and neighbors have agreed on a new, more mutally-acceptable site for the facility – the tennis courts at Lafayette Park.
According to a story in the LA Times, the park site makes sense because it lies within the census tract that has “the highest concentration of homeless individuals in Council District 10,” as well as a large number of emergency calls to LAFD for public health emergencies involving homeless individuals.
The Times story said the newly proposed site will be “formally proposed at City Hall within a week or two”…and that the originally-proposed Vermont Ave. site may still be used for housing, but possibly now as affordable housing for seniors. Another site originally proposed during negotiations for the bridge housing facility, on Kenmore Ave., may also now be used for a new supportive housing facility. (Unlike “bridge housing,” which is temporary, “supportive housing” is permanent and includes ongoing, on-site support services for residents.)
Proposed Bridge Housing Designs
Speaking of bridge housing, one question we’ve heard people ask frequently is what those facilties would look like – would they be just tents on a lot…or something more substantial? Well, about a week ago, the Urban Land Institute and Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office released some preliminary designs for the bridge housing facilities the city is seeking to construct under Garcetti’s “A Bridge Home” initiative. (This would likely include the facilty mentioned above, now proposed for Lafayette Park.)
The designs, provided by three architectural firms recruited by the ULI, are for shelters of 50, 100 and 150 beds… and are standarized, according to another story in the LA Times, so they “could be placed on a lot anywhere in the city, and are pleasing enough to help the shelter plan overcome its two biggest obstacles: First is the reputed aversion homeless people have for the dreary conditions in shelters. Then there’s the almost inevitable community opposition that shelter proposals encounter.”
The shelters would include elements such as courtyards and small gardens, in addition to housing units and administrative offices.
Supportive Housing Tracker
Next, back in March, 2018, each L.A. City Council member pledged to support a minimum of 222 new units of supportive housing in his or her district by July 1, 2020.
Recently, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, along with “a diverse coalition of nonprofit organizations, businesses, and labor and community leaders,” launched a new tracking tool to “make sure” those 3,330 pledged units actually “get built.” (The number is about 1/3 of the total number of supportive housing units the city needs right now.)
The tracker can be found at http://everyoneinla.org/supportive-housing-tracker/ and shows very simply how many supportive housing units exit in each City Council District, and how many of the 222 pledged units have actually been proposed and approved so far in each district.
Currently, according to the tracker, sites for 50 of CD4’s pledged 222 units have been approved, and 0 of the 222 pledged sites have been approved to date in CD5.
The tool provides an easy way to track progress in our local areas, and to see which Council Members are moving quickly toward their pledged goals. Three council districts – 1 (Cedillo), 9 (Price) and 14 (Huizar) – have already reached 100% (or more) of their goals.
David Ryu Proposed Supportive Housing Sites
Finally, on August 3, City Council Member David Ryu introduced a motion asking city officials to study two locations in Sherman Oaks, one for Emergency Temporary (“bridge”) Housing and the other for Permanent Supportive Housing. According to Ryu’s office, there are also currently two other other homeless housing projects underway in Council District Four, but none yet in the Sherman Oaks area.
“I am proud to introduce the motion today to study two new sites for homeless housing, and to bring crucial housing and services to Sherman Oaks,” Councilmember Ryu said in a press release. “This motion represents a community that’s working together and a Sherman Oaks where everyone has a safe place to sleep at night.”
According to the statement from Ryu’s office, the two potential projects are located at 5161 Sepulveda Boulevard and 15314 West Dickens Street. The Dickens Street property, currently a City-owned parking lot, would become Permanent Supportive Housing, and the Sepulveda location, owned by the Army Reserve, would become Emergency Temporary Housing as part of Mayor Garcetti’s “A Bridge Home” program, if approved. Both projects were identified and recommended by the local Neighborhood Council and homeowners association, in a historic community collaboration on developing homeless housing and services.
“Ending homelessness takes everybody – From the County, to the City, to residents rolling up their sleeves and committing to ending homelessness in their neighborhoods,” Councilmember Ryu added. “Sherman Oaks just showed the City how it’s done. Today’s motion is not just a win in our fight against homelessness, it’s also a win for true community collaboration on addressing the greatest issue of our time.”
Ryu has previously also proposed a women’s bridge housing facility at 1403 N. Gardner St., in a city-owned former library.