The 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found approximately 53,000 people experiencing homelessness in the County of Los Angeles, and roughly 74 percent of those individuals, 39,400, were unsheltered. Of those unsheltered, nearly 10,000 were in the First Supervisorial District. Homelessness is an urgent and ongoing problem that presents an imminent threat to life, health, and property of those affected. In response to this ongoing crisis, today the Board of Supervisors approved two motions authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis to address homelessness in the First District.
“Homelessness is a crisis, and we must think innovatively in order to address this issue directly,” said Supervisor Solis. “As we continue to work on multiple fronts to end homelessness, including supporting state legislation, tackling rising rents through a rent stabilization ordinance, and working closely with our cities to develop and implement their own homelessness plans, there is more to do. By filling a shortfall in a lease for The Whole Child, we are ensuring stability, safety, and a scenic environment for 44 families who are currently experiencing homelessness. This special space will give families a dignified place to live, and children a home in which they will thrive. We are also collaborating with our partners, such as the City of Los Angeles, Volunteers of America, and St. John’s to establish a new interim housing facility in the First District for up to 100 more people. We will not rest until everyone can rest in a bed of their own.”
Supervisor Solis’ first motion provides $457,000 from her discretionary Homeless Preventative Initiative (HPI) funds to The Whole Child to partially offset the lease of 14 cottages from The Gateways Hospital and Mental Health Center in Echo Park. For the last 62 years, The Whole Child, a non-profit social services organization providing mental health, housing, parenting, and nutrition services in Los Angeles County, has helped families who are struggling with housing instability. The Whole Child’s Safe Families Transitional Housing program provides families with shelter, meals, mental health services, housing case management, access to child care and other supportive services. During the last fiscal year, The Whole Child assisted 3,500 families, totaling 9,500 individuals in Los Angeles County, including 5,700 children and youth.
Gateways has presented a unique opportunity for The Whole Child to lease 14 cottages, located in a scenic area of Echo Park and consisting of 44 units, totaling 128 beds. On a revolving basis, this serene space can provide 44 families experiencing homelessness with an opportunity to heal, find employment, obtain supportive services, and eventually transition into permanent housing. This holistic approach is ideal and provides stability, particularly for the families who have experienced trauma while living on the streets or in motels. As families are moved into permanent housing, new families will be able to reside in this facility; hundreds, if not thousands, of families will be able to benefit from this housing. The Whole Child was positioned to enter into a long-term lease with Gateways, but identified funding gaps and approached Supervisor Solis for assistance. The $457,000 from Supervisor Solis’ discretionary funds will make up the shortfall and enable The Whole Child to enter into this lease agreement.
“In the absence of available beds in safe, dignified transitional living facilities, agencies helping families experiencing homelessness often need to place families in motels while working towards permanent housing, which exacerbates the traumatic effects of homelessness in children and is extremely expensive,” explained Constanza Pachon, CEO of The Whole Child. “We deeply thank Supervisor Solis for her quick and forward-thinking action that will enable us to make The Whole Child’s Safe Families Transitional Housing Facility a reality and with it bring 128 new beds to the system fighting family homelessness. At this facility, families will be part of a robust program of multidisciplinary support services designed to shorten a family’s journey into permanent housing. We also thank our partners LAHSA and Gateways Hospital for their commitment to this project and the most vulnerable families and children in Los Angeles County.”
Supervisor Solis’ second motion would create a joint LA County/LA City interim housing facility located at a County-owned parking lot for the H. Claude Hudson Comprehensive Health Center. The parking lot, which is one of four parking lots serving the Health Center, is located at 2817 South Hope Street, and can be repurposed without impacting parking conditions for the Health Center. The County and the City, in partnership with United Way’s ‘Everyone In’ campaign, have conducted outreach to local residents, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders to discuss and answer questions regarding homelessness, interim housing solutions, and the proposed project. The interim housing project would operate as interim housing for up to three years, and would provide personal hygiene, storage for belongings, meal services, case management, and supportive services for 100 women and men who are experiencing homelessness in the surrounding area.
The project site totals approximately 28,284 square feet, including a new single-story modular tent structure that will be up to 10,800 square feet. The proposed project would include a hygiene trailer, administration trailer, outdoor covered dining area, storage bin area, elevated deck, trellis-covered walkways, food preparation and serving area, outdoor pet area, and general open space with landscaping. The County and the City have identified Volunteers of America Los Angeles (VOALA) and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center (St. John’s) as the service providers to operate the site. Both VOALA and St. John’s are non-profit service providers which offer specialized programs and support services for people experiencing homelessness.
This second motion enters the County into a lease with the City, at no cost to the City, for this site. LA County and the City will also work together to identify funding for interim housing operations which will include, but is not limited to, Measure H funding. Construction is currently expected to begin in the summer with occupancy expected in the fall.