Looking at District 11 alternatives.

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By Sam Catanzaro

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s A Bridge Home initiative seeks to provide temporary housing to individuals who have received a housing voucher but are still waiting for a unit to become available.

“When someone gets a housing voucher, it may take them months, or even longer, to find an available unit. And in the meantime, they’re essentially told to wait in a tent on the sidewalk,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin who represents Brentwood.

Bridge housing is different than the City’s emergency winter shelters, which separate couples and family members by gender and prohibit individuals from bringing personal belongings.

“In bridge housing, people have a place to call their own, 24-hours, 7 days a week. They have access to restrooms, showers, storage and three meals a day. Residents are allowed to bring their belongings, bring their pets and stay with their spouses, partners and family members,” said Christina Miller, Senior Project Manager in the Homeless Strategies Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Mayor Garcetti asked each Los Angeles City Councilmember to look at encampments in their district and to find locations for bridge housing. According to Councilmember Bonin, the former MTA yard was a popular choice among constituents for a site.

“One suggestion kept coming up, again and again, more than any other – the former MTA bus yard on Main Street,” Bonin said. “The property is large, vacant and close to existing encampments.”

A sketch of the proposed MTA site. Photo: Councilmember Bonin’s Office.

MTA closed the lot in 2015 after receiving multiple offers from developers interested in the site. The property can be used for housing for the next three years, however, because there is no deal in place.

The proposed location has, however, stirred up some controversy among many in Venice who worry that the proposed site will disrupt the mostly residential neighborhood. In addition, there is concern about the shelter being within a 1,000-foot radius of Westminster Elementary School.

In light of these concerns, the Venice Neighborhood Council looked at alternate sites in West Los Angeles within Council District 11 for a bridge housing facility.

LAPD Training and Operations Center – 5601 Manchester Boulevard.

This City-owned 13.6-acre property is currently in limited use but has open space that would allow for immediate tent shelter erection. The plot is zoned industrial which means there would be no special permitting requirements. In addition, a high presence of police officers makes this an attractive location to some. A potential concern, however, is the abuttal of the property to residential houses on two sides.

West Los Angeles Civic Center – 1645 Corinth Ave

The West LA Courthouse, currently up for sale, is vacant and on property proposed for a bridge housing site. Photo: Edify TV.

This large property currently includes the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) West Division offices, a public library, the vacant West Los Angeles Courthouse and a 1.2-acre parking lot. The proximity to the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration and hospital make this an appealing choice but like the Venice MTA site, is nearby to an elementary school and residential apartments.

Westchester Recreation Center (7000 W Manchester Ave)

This 27.5-acre center facility includes office space, a library and men’s and women’s locker rooms. It will be available for use on January 1, 2019, and because the City owns the property, there is no lease required. In addition, the site is close to LAX, the future Rams’ football stadium and public parks all offering potential jobs. It is, however, nearby to the KinderCare learning center and the public Loyola Village School.

USS Enterprise (CVN-65)

The USS Enterprise, a decommissioned aircraft carrier, has been proposed as an alternate site for bridge housing. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This decommissioned United States Navy aircraft carrier was the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the longest aircraft carrier ever built. Active from 1961-2012 and decommissioned in 2017 and is currently awaiting scrapping and recycling and in Virginia. With sleeping quarters, bathrooms, cooking facilities and office space, this ship can hold up to 5,828 people. Some have discussed a similar idea in San Franciso regarding the USS Peleliu, a decommissioned assault ship. Former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos wrote an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle proposing docking the boat in the city’s port and allowing homeless individuals board at night.    

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