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L.A. City Council Committee Approves Fashion District Bridge Housing

5:08 PM PST on February 20, 2019

This downtown warehouse is planned to be partially converted to host 115 emergency beds to house area homeless. Photo via Google street view

This afternoon the L.A. City Council Homelessness and Poverty Committee unanimously approved developing bridge housing at 1426 Paloma Street - near where Central Avenue intersects the 10 Freeway in the eastern end of the downtown L.A. Fashion District, south of L.A.'s Skid Row.

The site is a privately-owned industrial warehouse, whose owner approached the county to see if it could serve as homeless housing. Clothing business operations will continue on part of the site. The city will lease another a portion of it to house approximately 115 emergency shelter beds with services.

The bridge housing is a joint city-county effort championed by City Councilmember José Huizar and County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Site services will be managed by the nonprofit Home At Last.

Layout planned for 1426 Paloma bridge housing - image via Home at Last
Layout planned for 1426 Paloma bridge housing - image via Home At Last
Layout planned for 1426 Paloma bridge housing - image via Home at Last

Huizar deputy Martin Schlageter presented the project to the committee, which included Councilmembers Mitch O'Farrell, Monica Rodriguez, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and David Ryu. Schlageter emphasized the need for shelter and services in the project vicinity, where recent homeless counts found nearly 600 people living un-housed, evidence of the clear need for the mayor's A Bridge Home emergency housing with wrap-around services.

Schlageter recounted that the project was the subject of two community meetings, where some nearby businesses raised concerns. At today's committee meeting there was a great deal of public support for the project, with about twenty public comments in favor and only one comment against. Even that speaker said that local businesses were concerned about transparency and accountability, not necessarily the proposed housing itself. Organizations expressing support included the Central City Association, Inner City Law Center, Downtown Women's Center, United Way Everyone In, and the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing.

There was very little discussion among the committee members, who generally will defer to the local councilmember for projects in their district. The committee approved the project's environmental clearance as well as a pair of motions (council files 19-0106 and 15-1138-S37) outlining leasing and funding specifics.

The proposal next goes to the full L.A. City Council, likely in about a week. After council approval, the site is anticipated to be operational in about three months. It will likely be the third operational bridge housing facility operating in L.A., and the second in Huizar's district. The mayor and council have committed to at least one bridge housing in each of the fifteen council districts, but neighborhood opposition has made projects difficult to complete.

Update 2/26: The Paloma bridge housing was approved by the full city council this morning.

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