Shelter, Not Sidewalks
A Bridge Home: a temporary, safe, secure, humane alternative to neighborhood encampments.
During his annual State of the City address, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced his “A Bridge Home” initiative to address the unprecedented homelessness crisis in our neighborhoods. The program is designed to replace concentrations of homeless encampments with temporary, safe, secure shelter and services that provide homeless people a bridge to permanent housing.
“A Bridge Home” will identify existing encampments, focus dedicated outreach workers to the people who live there, and offer them shelter in that neighborhood while social workers identify long-term housing for them. Once the temporary facilities are opened, the City will provide significant sanitation services to that neighborhood to clean up former encampments. Each council district is being asked to identify an encampment and a nearby location for temporary shelter.
Councilmember Bonin hopes that District 11 will have at least two locations for bridge housing. The first will be in Venice. The second will be on the VA campus near Brentwood.
The largest number and the greatest concentration of homeless people and encampments is in Venice, and the greatest number of requests to address homelessness and encampments come from Venice. As a result, Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Bonin have decided to focus first and most urgently on Venice encampments, and have identified a bridge housing location in Venice — the former MTA bus yard on Main Street.
about temporary bridge housing on the Westside
- IT WILL BE TEMPORARY – The program at the bus yard will be temporary and will last a maximum of three years. The site has already started the process of creating needed affordable housing at the location, and LA Metro will begin outreach in July for development of the site.
- IT WILL BE DESIGNED TO FIT IN VENICE – The facility will be designed to be an attractive addition to the community that feels like Venice. The City will engage Venice architects, designers, artists and landscapers to develop the design and ensure the facility fits well in the neighborhood.
- RESIDENTS WILL BE GOOD NEIGHBORS – Each transitional shelter built as part of the Bridge Home initiative will be required to abide by rules that protect neighbors from any nuisance. There will be on-site management and on-site security, and opportunities for neighbors to discuss other operational rules before the facility is opened.
- IT COMES WITH A COMMITMENT TO CLEAN UP ENCAMPMENTS – The Bridge Home initiative dedicates money in the 2018-19 city budget to pay for additional sanitation resources to cleanup the sites of former encampments, and once the inhabitants of an encampment have moved into the nearby new temporary shelter and the encampment has been cleaned up , the City will repurpose or redesign former encampment areas with art, landscaping, or programming to ensure the encampments do not return.
- NEIGHBORHOODS IN EVERY COUNCIL DISTRICT WILL ALSO HAVE SHELTERS – The Bridge Home initiative will ensure an equal distribution of temporary transitional housing facilities throughout Los Angeles. Bridge housing facilities will open in all 15 council districts, including in neighborhoods such as Westwood, Studio City, Chinatown, Van Nuys, Hollywood and Koreatown. Bridge housing is meant to benefit areas with concentrations of homelessness, and Venice has the largest concentration on the Westside. Additionally, the city is working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to open bridge housing for veterans on the VA campus near Brentwood.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Where will Council District 11’s A Bridge Home temporary bridge housing facilities be located?
A: Councilmember Bonin plans for District 11 to have at least two locations for bridge housing. The first will be in Venice. The second will be on the Veterans Affairs campus near Brentwood. The largest number and the greatest concentration of homeless people and encampments is in Venice, and the greatest number of requests to address homelessness and encampments come from Venice. As a result, Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Bonin have decided to focus first and most urgently on Venice encampments, and have identified a bridge housing location in Venice — the former MTA bus yard on Main Street. More details on the VA campus bridge housing will be announced soon.
THE FORMER BUS YARD
Q: Why use the former bus yard?
A: The former bus yard is one of the few available locations in Venice, and in a survey conducted by Mike’s office, it was the location suggested most frequently by residents who identified a need for the program in Venice. The site, at 3.15 acres, is sizeable enough to accommodate the program while providing a buffer from nearby residences. While the site is slated for development of permanent housing, the process is expected to take approximately three years – about the length of the bridge housing program — and it is immediately available.
Q: What will it look like? How will the site be designed?
A: The design and specific layout of the temporary shelter facility will be determined through collaboration with neighbors and Venice stakeholders. During the month of June, the mayor and the councilmember will conduct public engagement efforts to reach neighbors, unsheltered people and other Venice stakeholders that will include an open house, focus groups and other outreach activities to gain a better sense of the desires of the collective community. Professionals in the field such as local designers and architects will also be consulted to help incorporate community feedback into attractive, feasible and functional design proposals that highlight the unique attributes of Venice.
While the specific design is still to be determined, Councilmember Bonin feels strongly that this shelter should resemble and reflect the Venice community in which it will located. The Councilmember is proposing to work with local artists, non-profit organizations and other Venice-based resources to create community gardens, public art and other amenities that will help the temporary shelter feel more compatible and integrated with Venice.
Q: How long will bridge housing exist at this location?
A: The City hopes to open bridge housing facilities in late 2018 or early 2019, and to have them remain open for up to three years.
Q: How do we know this will be temporary?
A: The bus yard is owned by LA Metro, which has plans for the property. Metro is going to begin community outreach for their development proposal in July, and the City’s ability to use the site will terminate when Metro’s selected developer eventually begins construction.
Q: How will the Bridge Housing operate?
A: Bridge housing is very different from emergency shelters. Unlike emergency shelters, bridge housing will be open to its residents 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. The facilities will accommodate pets, provide sufficient storage for personal belongings, and allow families and circles of friends to remain together. Bridge housing will include restrooms, showers, food, climate-controlled accommodations, storage and on-site, 24-hour security.
Through funding from Los Angeles County, bridge housing will provide onsite social wrap-around services, case management, and social workers to help find and prepare to transition into long-term housing for residents. The goal of the program is to help facilitate the transition of people into housing swiftly, with an intention of having people stay in the bridge housing for no more than 90 days at a time.
Councilmember Bonin hopes local stakeholders and organizations will become partners to the program, offering opportunities for residents to get involved through activities such as operation of a community garden, creative artwork, or employment and vocational skills development.
Q: Who will operate the bridge housing?
A: Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) will select a service provider and manager for the facility.
Q: Who will live at the bridge housing?
A: Outreach for the bridge housing will be focused exclusively on encampments in Venice, and only people living on the streets of Venice neighborhoods and who have connected with homeless outreach workers in Venice will be eligible to stay in the bridge housing.
Q: What will happen to encampments near the location of the bridge shelter facility once the facility is open and operational?
A: The “A Bridge Home” initiative is designed specifically to match new shelter locations with enhanced cleanup of homeless encampments. Once the shelter is operational and homeless outreach workers have had time to connect with the people living on the streets of Venice, Mayor Garcetti’s 2018-19 budget will provide for additional funds for Bureau of Sanitation teams to conduct cleanups of encampment sites, with extra focus on the sites that had previously been occupied by the new residents at the nearby temporary shelter. The City will also seek opportunities to repurpose former encampments sites, through landscaping, art, and public activities, such as festivals and farmers’ markets.
Q: Will any other temporary shelter facilities be built in other parts of Los Angeles as part of the Bridget Home initiative?
A: Yes. The A Bridge Home initiative provides funding for 100 shelter beds in each and every council district in Los Angeles. By allowing each Council office to identify at least one shelter location, the initiative is founded in equity and a fair geographic distribution of resources.
Q: What opportunities for engagement are coming up?
A: Now that a location for the Council District 11 A Bridge Home temporary shelter has been identified, Mayor Garcetti and Councilmember Bonin will convene a series of community meetings, including an open house and workshops. These events will allow stakeholders to provide input on the design of the facility, as well as the programming and operations at the temporary shelter. The Community Open House will be held on Wednesday, June 13 from 6pm – 8pm at Westminster Elementary School (1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd.).
THE VA CAMPUS
Q: Why have bridge housing on the VA campus?
A: We owe the men and women who served our country in the military a sincere debt of gratitude, and many people who have served come home with issues that makes getting the help they need difficult. A specialized bridge home facility that caters specifically to veterans is the right thing to do, and an important part of larger strategies to end homelessness. The VA campus is developing supportive housing, but while that happens, a bridge
Q: Where will the bridge home facility be on the VA campus?
A: The VA campus has underused parking lots that would be ideal for temporary bridge housing, and the city bureau of engineering is working with staff at the Department of Veterans Affairs to identify the best location for the bridge housing facility.
Q: Tell me again why the City is doing this?
A: There are more than 33,000 people who are homeless in Los Angeles, and 24,000 of them go without any form of shelter. As a result, we have a growing number of encampments in nearly every neighborhood of Los Angeles. Federal courts have been abundantly clear that the City of Los Angeles cannot ban people from sleeping on sidewalks and living in encampments unless and until we provide an alternative. In stark terms, it is sidewalks or shelter, homeless encampments or homes. This initiative is a step in the direction of finding solutions to this complex issue.