Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz filed a proposal Friday that asks the city to explore creating outdoor emergency homeless shelters and shared housing units.
Koretz said these methods would address the proliferation of homeless encampments and the humanitarian, sanitation and public health issues that accompany them.
“We need to bridge the gap between street encampments and expensive construction,” Koretz said.
The outdoor emergency shelter idea was inspired by the city of Modesto, Koretz said. In February, it opened the outdoor equivalent to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s A Bridge Home program by creating a “tent city” with services, sanitation and security.
Shared housing, which Councilman Mike Bonin has supported as well, has been shown to be a more efficient way of getting high-functioning homeless people into affordable housing than they city’s expensive bridge projects, Koretz said.
Koretz’s motion, if approved, would identify areas for outdoor shelters in each of the city’s 15 council districts.
The outdoor emergency shelter in Modesto features portable bathrooms, wash stations and security guards, Koretz said. Nonprofits provide people at least one meal a day, and service providers visit to offer counseling, medical, mental health and re-housing services. Volunteers help out with various tasks.
Shared housing, Koretz said, would involve leasing existing homes to place small numbers of formerly homeless people in them on a transitional basis. He said this type of living situation has been launched in Bonin’s Council District 11 with “some success,” and Koretz’s proposal calls for the city to look at expanding the program and to seek funding for it.
“It’s past time we stopped kidding ourselves that it’s acceptable to do nothing while we wait for Bridge and (Proposition) HHH projects to open,” Koretz said. “For years, the city has allowed unsheltered persons experiencing homelessness to languish outdoors, subjecting them to indignities, burdening residents and businesses with unacceptable conditions in every community.”
Koretz said the city needs to acknowledge ideas that may have seemed “unthinkable or controversial” in the past in order to at least temporarily address the crisis.
The proposal was referred to the City Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee for consideration.
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