A Los Angeles City Council committee moved forward Wednesday with a plan to house about five dozen homeless people in trailers on a downtown parking lot as a possible model for citywide temporary shelters.
The proposal, outlined in a motion introduced by Councilman Jose Huizar, calls for installing five trailers on a city-owned parking lot at Arcadia and Alameda streets to house people who sleep on the sidewalks in the area around the historic El Pueblo site off of Main Street.
The motion says the shelters could be installed and operated for six months at a cost of $2 million. Huizar said previously that the annual cost after that would be about $1.4 million to operate the site, and that more temporary shelters of a similar nature are in the works for other areas of the city.
The Homelessness and Poverty Committee approved the motion over the concerns of some local business owners and merchants who fear that the shelter would draw more homeless into the area.
Huizar said he shared the concerns of the local merchants and wanted to see a guarantee from the city that it would primarily serve the homeless already living in the El Pueblo area. He also vowed that the city would do more outreach to the community about the plan.
Huizar pointed out that the area already has a significant level of homeless people sleeping on the streets and sidewalks.
“They are there, and the theory behind this is to see if we can get those individuals there in one center as opposed to being scattered out so that within six months, within a year we see less encampments, less people obstructing the public right of way. That’s the idea,” Huizar said.
The proposal comes from a task force formed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to brainstorm how to get thousands of unsheltered people off the streets.
If approved by the City Council, and after a required California Environmental Quality Act study is done, the initiative to provide temporary shelter would mark a new strategy for the city, which has focused primarily on encouraging the construction of permanent housing through $1.2 billion in voter- approved bonds under Measure H, which was passed in 2016.
The El Pueblo site would consist of three trailers for beds, one trailer to house administrative workers and case management services, and one hygiene trailer with restrooms, showers and laundry facilities, with a goal of transitioning residents into permanent housing within six months.
Homelessness in the city of Los Angeles jumped by 20 percent in 2017 while the county saw a spike of 23 percent, according to the results of the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. In the city, the total number of homeless went up to an estimated 34,189 and the county number increased to 57,794.
–City News Service
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