Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti sought Wednesday to dispel what an aide called misinformation about a proposed temporary homeless shelter in Koreatown.
Garcetti conducted a City Hall news conference with about 10 Korean language media outlets Wednesday after dozens of people demonstrated Sunday against the shelter and an online petition drive gathered more than 7,300 signatures in a week, including about 2,000 in the past 24 hours.
“There’s a lot of misinformation that is going around and we wanted to make sure that everybody had their facts straight,” Garcetti spokeswoman Anna Bahr told City News Service.
The Koreatown proposal was unveiled last week, with the shelter being the first one planned that Garcetti wants in each of the 15 council districts as part of his new “A Bridge Home” initiative.
Garcetti first outlined the A Bridge Home program during his State of the City speech last month. He also set aside $20 million in his proposed 2018-19 budget to spur the installation of emergency shelters in the form of tents, trailers, storage units or safe parking facilities.
Opposition to the proposed Koreatown shelter has sprung up fast. Aside from the Sunday protest where dozens of residents demonstrated, a Facebook group “No Shelter in Koreatown” has formed and the Korean American Coalition sent out a news release complaining there was little public outreach made in the neighborhood before the announcement.
The online petition also complained about a lack of outreach.
“This plan is definitely not the answer to resolve the homeless problem in Koreatown. But more importantly, the announcement/decision was made without hearing the true voices of the community residents and those who work in the community,” the petition states.
City Council President Herb Wesson, whose district includes the proposed shelter, posted a video to Facebook on Tuesday where he said he wanted to clarify misinformation being reported in the neighborhood. Wesson has not responded to a request to comment on the Koreatown shelter.
Wesson said in the video that the shelter was being placed in Koreatown because it has the most homeless people of any neighborhood in his district. He also stressed that the facility will not be up indefinitely, but will be open for a maximum of three years.
Wesson also said the facility will have police and services on site 24 hours a day, that it is not the only shelter being installed in the city, and that the public will have an opportunity to speak at a Homelessness and Poverty Committee meeting tentatively scheduled for May 22.
“As the president of the Los Angeles City Council, I have a responsibility to lead the way for the other 14 members of the council, so that’s why we selected this site,” Wesson said.
There was a 20 percent increase in the number of homeless in Los Angeles last year to 34,189. Results of the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count conducted in January are expected to be released around the end of the month.