Narrow church pews endanger city funding for Highland Park homeless shelter [updated @ 6:49 pm]

the nela homeless access center and shelter opened at all saints episcopal church on monte vista december 1st and will continue through march 1st. the day before homeless guest were admitted, volunteer staff participated in orientation. the twenty two volunteers from various walks of life from mental health professionals to the retired and families seeking to do social work along with local activists and residents representing several nela neighbourhood councils came together to prepare for its opening night. the winter shelter is a partnership between all saints episcopal church and father prescott clark, recycled resources and the northeast homeless coalition. ascencia of glendale is acting as the fiscal administrators. other groups and collectives are being recruited as the process unfolds for things such as meals and transportation needs. total (4) imageswww.theironyandtheecstasy.mejohn urquiza/sin turistas collective

Church pews will sleep up to 50 persons | John Urquiza/ Sin Turistas Collective


HIGHLAND PARK — Many of the pews at All Saints Episcopal Church have been filled every night after being converted to beds for the homeless. But those pews are a problem for a county homeless agency, which says they are not suitable for sleeping. As a result, Northeast L.A.’s only homeless shelter won’t be able to receive $75,000 in city funding it requested to stay open during the winter.

Following inspections last week, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority determined that the shelter was not up to their standards, citing the narrow church pews as one of the reasons, according to City Council officials and shelter organizers. That decision prevents the Northeast Los Angeles Winter Access Center, as the shelter is called, from receiving funding from the city, according to shelter organizers.

“They have concerns about people sleeping in pews and potentially rolling over, falling and hurting themselves,” said Fredy Ceja, spokesman for 1st District Councilman Gil Cedillo.

The shelter is at capacity and is currently run by volunteers and funded by donations. Recycled Resources, the local homeless support group operating the shelter, was hoping to receive about $75,000 in funds from the $12.4 million in emergency homeless relief funding the City Council approved last week. Those funds included money for an additional 650 winter shelter beds.

Now some local officials are scrambling to open a winter shelter in NELA. During a visit to the Highland Park shelter on Tuesday night, 14th District Councilman Jose Huizar offered between $15,000 to $25,000 of his office’s discretionary funding to help keep the shelter open.

“Irrespective of what LAHSA does, we are going to get some money here so that the center continues to operate for the winter,” said Huizar, calling on the importance of the shelter to stay open in light of the anticipated storms of El Nino.

Councilman Cedillo introduced a motion to open up the Bridewell Armory in Highland Park to be used as an emergency winter shelter and also asked the homeless authority to reconsider its decision about the existing shelter. But Rebecca Prine, founder and director of Recycled Resources said the armory needs much fixing and wouldn’t be ready in time for the winter.

Monica Alcaraz, president of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council and a shelter organizer, said that “we have to move forward. We can’t stop just because they’re not going to give us funding when they haven’t been giving us funding.”

UPDATE @ 6:49 pm: The city will go ahead and help fund the Highland Park shelter despite the concerns of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, according Ceja at Council District 1.  The City Council today approved two motions by Cedillo that will provide funding for the shelter at All Saints Episcopal and also open the Bridewell Armory as shelter space.

Separately, the City Council also approved a motion by Councilman Huizar to use $20,000 of his discretionary funds for the Highland Park shelter.

Lucy Guanuna  is a freelance reporter who has covered a variety of issues, including business, education and social justice movements in her native Los Angeles. Her work has been published in the Daily Sundial, L.A. Activist, and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.

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  1. Please attend SLNC’s Homelessness In Silver Lake Town Hall Meeting.
    When: Thursday, Dec. 17th, 2015
    Time: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
    Where: 650 Micheltorena Street
    Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral (on-site parking)
    Topic: Hear from a panel of city, state and non profit organization representatives regarding the current status of homelessness in Silver Lake. Have your questions answered and your comments heard.
    For more info, please visit. http://www.silverlakenc.org

  2. You go, Rebecca Prine and Recycled Resources!

  3. Each council member should hold an indepth informational meeting to explain to the public what Affordable Housing really entails……and I mean everything, from funding, the cost, players, bidding, why some projects get boarded up. Why nonprofit organizations are involved. Why FBI gets involved. The temptation that draws misappropriation of funds. Why building affordable housing projects is so lucrative. And, allow public comments and opposing view points from the audience.
    -david Barron-
    Resident of council district 7.

  4. Stupid bureaucrats are a bigger threat to humanity than ISIS.

  5. From the Hazard Park Preservation Coalition: IMMEDIATE ACTION ALERT!!! Support utilizing the Hazard Park Armory as an Emergency Homeless Shelter. We are calling upon Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman’s Jose Huizar and Gil Cedillo, along with the Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights and LA-32 Neighborhood Councils, plus most important, Community Members, to support the usage of available space at the Hazard Park Armory, as a Emergency Homeless Shelter during the upcoming El Nino Winter. The area bordering Hazard Park and the surrounding communities of Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights and LA-32 are dealing with a unprecedented Homeless Population influx. Further, with the upcoming El Nino Weather Pattern, many of those less fortunate to not have a dry, sheltered location to sleep, will be confronted with life-threatening conditions that merit immediate action. Yesterday, the LA City Council voted to support a Motion via CD 1 Councilman Cedillo, to have the Recreation and Parks Department immediately make the Highland Park Brideway Armory ready to act as a Emergency Shelter. Please call on Mayor Garcetti, Councilmans Huizar & Garcetti and the Neighborhood Councils to support this needed, life-saving action.

  6. HAHA The pews are too narrow but the sidewalk under a bridge is just fine. Typical liberal logic.

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