The City Council Tuesday ordered an evaluation on the potential use of the Los Angeles Convention Center as a temporary emergency homeless shelter.
The council, on a unanimous vote, instructed the city administrative officer and chief legislative analyst, with assistance from several departments including the Convention and Tourism Department and Bureau of Engineering, to conduct the assessment and report back within 30 days.
The motion was introduced by Councilmen Curren Price and Kevin De Leon on Nov. 10.
“Sheltering our population experiencing homelessness is an urgent priority for the city. The 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, published by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority on July 20, 2020, reported that 41,290 individuals were experiencing homelessness in the city, an increase of 16.1 percent over 2019,” the motion reads. “Of this group, 28,852 individuals are unsheltered.”
The convention center, located at 1201 S. Figueroa St. in downtown Los Angeles, is owned by the city and managed by the Convention and Tourism Department.
While during a normal year the center hosts convention and trade shows, all events were postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The councilmen said in the motion that it should be used as a city asset while regular operations are suspended.
In April, the center was used as a temporary medical facility to assist hospitals in the event that their capacity was exhausted from a surge in COVID-19 cases. It wasn’t utilized for medical patients, but was temporarily outfitted with 250 hospital beds.
The report will include an estimate of the number of beds that can reasonably fit into the building, as well as potential services, funding requirements and revenue impacts the project would have.
The Los Angeles Community Action Network, which is working to end homelessness in L.A., opposes turning the convention center into an emergency shelter during the pandemic.
“With the COVID-1 pandemic on the rise, the last thing we need is the warehousing of houseless individuals and families and creating super spreader shelters,” LACAN said in a statement Tuesday. “Additionally, the deep subsidies provided to hotels adjacent to the convention center demands the public gets a fair return on our investment. That return: open the doors of the hotels to house and provide services to houseless people.”