A Bridge Home
A temporary, safe, secure, humane alternative to neighborhood encampments.
During his 2018 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 housing and services that provide homeless people a bridge to permanent housing.
“A Bridge Home” is designed to identify existing encampments, focus dedicated outreach workers to the people who live there, and offer them temporary housing 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 nearby public areas. Each council district was asked to identify an encampment and a nearby location for temporary housing.
District 11 will have at least three locations for bridge housing. The first will be on the VA campus near Brentwood. The second will be in Venice, and another site has already opened in Mar Vista.
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 Councilmember Bonin have decided to focus 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 began community outreach in July 2018 for development of the site.
- IT IS BEING DESIGNED TO FIT IN VENICE – The facility will be designed to be an attractive addition to the community that feels like Venice. The City has engaged 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 temporary housing facility 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 NEARBY AREAS – The Bridge Home initiative dedicates money in the city budget to pay for additional sanitation resources to clean up the sites of former encampments.
- NEIGHBORHOODS THROUGHOUT LOS ANGELES WILL ALSO HAVE BRIDGE HOUSING – The City of Los Angeles has already opened four bridge housing sites (two in Hollywood, one downtown and one near MacArthur Park), and another nine are currently under construction. Five more sites have already been approved and funded, and eight more locations are under consideration by the City Council. So far, 26 different bridge home sites have been opened or proposed throughout LA, ensuring that alternatives to sidewalk encampments exist across LA.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What is bridge housing and why do we need it in Venice?
A: In April 2018, Mayor Garcetti and the City Council declared an emergency shelter crisis and took advantage of a new state law that enables cities to construct bridge housing — faster than ever before — on any land owned or leased by the City.
To expedite construction, the Mayor’s 2018-19 budget included a $20 million fund to construct emergency bridge housing city-wide, which was equally available to each Council District. To receive increased sanitation funding for the area, each Councilmember must identify a site or building adjacent to a high-density homeless population, and create emergency bridge housing.
In total, the Mayor’s budget included more than $450 million in supportive housing, bridge housing, services, and facilities to help homeless Angelenos find their way off the streets and under a roof. That represents a 147% increase over last year.
The Mayor also fought for — and won — funding from the state’s budget surplus to help cities across California find, build, and expand housing for their homeless populations. Thanks to that effort, Los Angeles alone will receive $166 million from the state to bring our unhoused neighbors indoors.
In May, Mayor Garcetti signed an Executive Directive that requires City departments to fast-track temporary shelter projects from application to construction, allowing those that meet legal and environmental standards to open their doors in as little as 32 weeks. The City will guide these projects from start to finish.
In the months leading up to new bridge housing opening, the service provider will direct unprecedented outreach, mental health, career, and addiction support services to nearby encampments to help prepare homeless Angelenos to move indoors.
After the new bridge housing sites open their doors, City Sanitation teams will work to restore spaces that were previously encampment sites into safe, clean, public passageways.
Bridge housing will remain standing for three years — enough time for the City to construct supportive housing for the Angelenos living in them. The supportive housing will be furnished with on-site security, mental health, employment, addiction, housing placement services, and wellness resources.
To learn more about bridge housing, watch the video below.
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 the bus yard is immediately available.
Q: How does locating the site in Venice help Venice?
A: Federal courts have made clear — cities cannot police their way out of homelessness and we have a choice between either allowing people to live on sidewalks and in alleys, or creating the housing that will offer alternatives to the street. Homeless people are already living on the streets surrounding the former MTA bus lot — building bridge housing at the site won’t add any more homeless people to the neighborhood, but it will create a safe and clean place for the people who are already on the streets of Venice to stay.
Additionally, the “A Bridge Home” initiative is designed to match new temporary housing locations with an enhanced cleanup of nearby public areas. Once the temporary housing 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 housing. Only the communities closest to the bridge housing will be able to receive increased attention from cleanup crews, so if the bridge housing facility isn’t in Venice, the community won’t be able to benefit from additional cleanups.
Q: What will it look like? How will the site be designed?
A: The facility was designed based on community input and will be a combination of a membrane tent and modular trailers. From the outside, neighbors will see decorative fences and landscaping, and the inside will be designed to maximize space and to provide places for residents to get the support they need as they transition off the street.
Q: Where will the entrance be?
A: Residents and staff will enter from Main Street, through a garden area, past the offices of social service agencies, housing locators, and more.
Q: How many people will be housed at the facility at once?
A: The facility will provide up to 154 beds — 100 beds for adults and 54 for youth.
Q: Will the beds for youth be separated from the beds for adults?
A: Yes. The adults would be housed in the center of the property, in a climate-controlled membrane structure that could be modified internally to provide privacy and allow spouses or couples to share space.
The youth will be housed in a separate area, on the north side of the property, in modular trailers. Youth and adults would have separate restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities, and different service providers would be contracted to work with the different age groups.
Q: What will be on the site in addition to beds and restrooms?
A: There would be offices for service providers and housing locators on site; outdoor spaces suitable for programming, for classes, for exercise and for other events; and an area for social enterprise or job training, or skills classes, giving people the tools they need as they rebuild their lives. There will also be a community garden and a space for public art projects, giving residents an opportunity to work together, express themselves and build community.
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 began community outreach for their development proposal in July 2018, and the City’s ability to use the site will terminate when Metro’s selected developer eventually begins construction.
Q: Is this a shelter? 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 couples 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 people to transition into long-term housing. The goal of the program is to help facilitate the transition of people into housing swiftly, and the average stay in bridge home facilities is typically about 90 days.
Councilmember Bonin hopes local stakeholders and organizations will become partners to the program, offering opportunities for residents to get involved through activities such as the operation of a community garden, creative artwork, or employment and vocational skills development.
Q: Who will operate the bridge housing?
A: The Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority has selected People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) to manage and operate the bridge housing facility set to open in Venice. PATH, one of the nation’s most successful and respected homeless service providers, will be the lead operator of the site and will work with the Venice-based Safe Place for Youth, which will also provide services at the temporary facility.
Q: Who will live at the bridge housing?
A: Outreach for the temporary housing will be focused exclusively on encampments in Venice, and people will need a referral from an outreach worker in Venice in order to stay at the Venice facility.
Q: Will the temporary housing facility in Venice be required to house homeless people from throughout the region?
A: No. Spots in the facility will be reserved ONLY for people who have been referred by Bridge Home outreach teams, which will only be focused on connecting with people living in encampments near the facility. The occupants of bridge housing in Venice will be people who were previously living on the streets of Venice.
Q: Will this attract more homeless people to the community in the hopes of getting in? Will the area around the facility become inundated with new encampments?
A: No. There are bridge housing facilities being set up around the city, so people can access support near where they are most likely to accept help. This bridge housing site will not be a “drop-in facility,” which accepts people showing up without first having connected with a social worker, so there is no incentive for people to come to Venice to try and get into the facility.
Also, there will be security on-site 24/7 to keep the facility and immediate area safe and clean.
Q: Will there be parking available for people living in their cars?
A: No. There will be parking for service providers and contractors working at the site, but the bridge housing facility will not also serve as a safe parking program. A series of other neighborhoods on the Westside, including Brentwood, West LA, and Westchester/Playa recently launched safe parking programs that will open soon.
Q: How many people will this help get off the street?
A: Bridge housing is designed as a temporary stop for people who used to be living on the street, and as more people are connected with long-term housing opportunities, their beds in the temporary facility will be made available for the next person looking to move off of the street. We expect the average stay in bridge housing to be about three months before residents can be connected with longer-term opportunities. With 154 beds, the Venice site could potentially serve more than 600 people in a year.
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 temporary housing locations with an enhanced cleanup of nearby public areas. Once the temporary housing is operational and homeless outreach workers have had time to connect with the people living on the streets of Venice, the city budget provides for additional funds for Bureau of Sanitation teams to conduct cleanups of nearby public areas, with extra focus on the sites that had previously been occupied by the new residents at the nearby temporary housing.
Additionally, enhanced services that come with welcoming A Bridge Home to the neighborhood will add to the patrols that are currently in place in Venice. A dedicated LAPD foot beat detail will be assigned to the Special Enforcement zone around the Bridge Home site and the detail will be enforcing “tents down” rules from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Also, the regular presence from LAPD Homeless Outreach and Proactive Engagement (HOPE) officers during daytime hours will help ensure that specially trained law enforcement is present in the area. This will open up the current police presence to focus on the areas outside of the zone, ultimately increasing police capacity in Venice to respond to crime.
Q: Will any other temporary housing facilities be built in other parts of Los Angeles as part of the Bridge Home initiative?
A: Yes. The Bridge Home initiative provides funding for shelter beds in council districts throughout Los Angeles. By allowing Council offices to identify at least shelter locations, the initiative is founded in equity and a fair geographic distribution of resources. So far, a bridge housing facility has already opened in downtown Los Angeles, and sites have been approved in Brentwood and Hollywood, with more on the way soon.
Q: How can local businesses or nonprofits become partners in this important initiative?
A: Beyond the services provided by PATH and SPY, there is the possibility of partnering with additional organizations to enhance the programmatic vision of Bridge Home on site. Please contact our Bridge Home Deputy, Allison Wilhite, at [email protected] to share your proposal and learn more about our partnership goals.
Q: How can residents contribute to the success of the Bridge Home?
A: In addition to expressing support for bridge housing to help reduce encampments in their community, Venetians have also expressed eagerness to help make this facility a reality. As the opening nears, our office will reach out to residents with volunteer opportunities to welcome and support their unhoused neighbors. If you or a group of friends would like to contribute your time and talents at the site, please contact our Bridge Home Deputy, Allison Wilhite, at [email protected]
Q: What are other neighborhoods on the Westside doing to address homelessness? Is Venice being asked to carry an unfair burden to address this citywide crisis?
A: Neighborhoods throughout the Westside are stepping up to end homelessness and every community in Council District 11 is home to efforts to offer alternatives to living on the street.
Other Westside efforts include:
- The VA campus is planning for more than 1200 units of housing for homeless vets.
- The City is helping fund two of the first buildings. 110 units of housing.
- The VA is opening Bridge Housing — with city support — to provide temporary shelter for homeless vets
- The VA has opened Safe Parking for people living in their cars.
In Del Rey:
- PATH Ventures provides supportive housing at the PATH Villas at Del Rey, a Bill Rosendahl Community.
- Venice Community Housing provides supportive housing at several buildings
- 1736 Family Crisis Center opened a home for homeless and at-risk youth
- Safran Associates’ Del Rey Square includes housing for homeless people
In Mar Vista:
- Venice Community Housing provides transitional Housing for 10 young adults experiencing homelessness, ages 18-24, with onsite YouthBuild program services
- Venice Community Housing provides homeless housing in an apartment building on Washington Place
- A new affordable housing project will also offer housing for people at-risk of homelessness
- The City is exploring building supportive housing on Venice Boulevard
In Pacific Palisades:
- The Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness raised more than $200,000, hired Ocean Park Community Center and housed 63 people.
- Neighbors are looking for a site for a home for homeless women fleeing domestic violence
In West LA . . .
- Supportive housing is being built at the former West LA Animal Shelter
- The City and County operate the Emergency Winter Shelter program
- The City has approved Safe Parking at the West LA Civic Center
- A major development near the Expo Bundy stop will include homeless housing
In Westchester/Playa . . .
- The City has approved Safe Parking at the Westchester Municipal Building
Find out more in the video below.
Q: Is bridge housing a permanent solution, or just a temporary band-aid?
A: Bridge housing is just one component of a larger, more comprehensive approach to ending homelessness in Los Angeles. This is not a permanent solution to homelessness — it is an important bridge between the streets and longer-term solutions like supportive housing. We can’t let people languish on our streets while long-term housing is built, however, and bridge housing will provide immediate relief and will help long-term solutions succeed.
You can see a more detailed look at the variety of efforts underway in the video below.
Q: Why not do this in other parts of the Westside?
A: We are. Bridge housing on the Brentwood Veterans Affairs campus was recently approved by the city and will likely begin construction this month. Also, this program is designed to deliver relief to the neighborhoods most severely impacted by the homelessness crisis, and on the Westside that is Venice. Bridge housing addresses homelessness where it already exists, and brings people indoors instead of leaving them out on the street.
Q: Why not focus on other short-term solutions like shared housing and family reunification?
A: We are. Shared housing has successfully, affordably and swiftly moved people off the streets and into homes with roommates. In fact, just a few weeks ago, the City Council’s Homelessness & Poverty Committee heard the results of our shared housing pilot in Venice, and Councilmember Bonin’s request to ramp up support for shared housing and use it to move people rapidly through bridge housing and into permanent homes.
Shared housing and family reunification will both be a part of the Venice bridge housing facility, and groups including SHARE! will have offices on site to help continue the transition for people into longer-term solutions.
Q: Is Venice the only bridge shelter being proposed near residential areas?
A: No. Bridge housing is being proposed throughout the city in a variety of different locations near existing encampments, because that is where relief is needed most. Many sites being proposed for bridge housing are near residential areas, and the intent of the initiative is to help make sure we can all live in safe and clean neighborhoods.
Q: How is it going at El Pueblo – the first bridge housing site opened through this program?
A: The city’s first Bridge Home facility opened in the El Pueblo neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles in September 2018. Early anecdotal results of the outreach and effect the facility is having on the neighborhood is already encouraging.
Residents at the facility — who had just a few weeks ago been sleeping on the streets and sidewalks near the site — are finding the support they need to get off of the street. One resident of the El Pueblo facility recently began GED classes — another has already gotten a part-time job as a result of moving into the facility. One of the residents had been on the streets for decades and had repeatedly refused services until seeing the temporary bridge housing open up near where he had been camping. Another resident is finally getting the medical treatment she needs because the Bridge Home outreach workers were able to convince her to move into the facility.
It is very encouraging to see it making a difference in the neighborhood – and in turning around people’s lives.
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.