Quantcast

Homeless find shelter in the pews of a Highland Park church

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

Father Prescott Clark prepares pews for homeless | John Urquiza/ Sin Turistas Collective

By LUCY GUANUNA

HIGHLAND PARK — For years, the homeless of Highland Park have had to travel to Glendale or Skid Row to find the nearest shelter. The long bus ride and the volatile environment of Skid Row had left many preferring to stay in Northeast L.A. and camp out in places like the Arroyo Seco and Sycamore Grove Park. But now they will not have to leave the neighborhood after All Saints Episcopal Church opened its doors this month as NELA’s only homeless shelter.

“Many of the homeless feel safer out here than in places like Skid Row,” said Monica Alcaraz, president of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council. “I’m not saying this place is safe, but this is their community and this is where they’re from.”

The Northeast Los Angeles Winter Access Center is currently housing 21 people but can provide shelter for up to 50 during the cold wet nights expected during El Niño. Those 50 spaces, however, are too few when compared to the 380 homeless living in Highland Park and more than 800 living across NELA, according to recent estimates.

Each night from now through March 1, the pews of All Saints on Monte Vista Street will be converted into beds that are covered with pads, sleeping bags and pillows the visitors receive when they arrive. The access center is  open from 7 p.m. – 6 a.m.

Apart from a place to sleep, visitors will also be offered assistance to obtain permanent housing and social services.

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

Spearheaded by Recycled Resources, a local homeless support group, the shelter is currently run by volunteers and funded by donations from local businesses and the Eagle Rock and Highland Park neighborhood councils. More than $9,000 has also been raised on the crowdfunding website YouCaring.com.

“One of the concerns we’ve had is that we are right across from an elementary school, so everybody is out by 6 a.m. to make sure they don’t interfere with the kids being dropped off,” said  Rebecca Prine, founder and director of Recycled Resources. “But the principal has been supportive and so have the neighbors next door and across the street.”

The Highland Park access center is requesting $75,000 from the city for operations and is seeking to hire Ascencia, a Glendale-based homeless services agency, to run the shelter. Officials with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and representatives from councilmen Gil Cedillo and Jose Huizar will inspect the site later this week to determine whether it’s up to code and would qualify for funding.

Long-time Highland Park resident Hope Torres is now staying at the church with her three sisters after being swept out of local parks.

“We were there when the sweeps happened in the Arroyo,” Torres said. “Then we moved to a hidden section in Sycamore Park where we thought we wouldn’t disturb anybody but the park rangers told us we had to leave. We stayed and went as far as hiding in the bathrooms. We had nowhere to go but in the street, so we were just waiting for this place to open.”

Prine said she hopes that her group will be able to turn the winter access center into a permanent facility that would be open 24 hours.

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.

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

Shelter volunteer | John Urquiza/ Sin Turistas Collective

Eastside Guide Small Logo

The Eastside Guide Business Directory is designed to help readers find the services and products they need.

The businesses and services in the directory have not been reviewed nor are they endorsed by The Eastsider. Users are responsible for taking care to investigate any offers, products or services provided by businesses listed in the directory.

Want your business included in the Eastside Guide? Click here for details



Eastsider Advertising

3 comments

  1. What a great story to read at Christmas/holiday time. Thank you to all at the All Saints Episcopal Church.

  2. What a disgusting situation that we’ve got these clowns in city hall dancing around juggling city council motions for “$100 million to end homelessness” and empty votes for affordable housing with a dysfunctional housing department; all of this and here we see people turning out their pockets to make sure that everyone has a safe place to sleep at night.

    We can and we should do better. We need leadership, not money, on homelessness.

    • This is a great story. I agree with ubray02 (Dec 9 1:11 pm). The Arroyo Seco NC unanimously voted to send a letter to their city council representatives (Cedillo/Huizar) to ask for support for the issue. The city should definitely pay this church and other local churches that provide or can provide this type of service, and the city should temporarily relax enforcement of of any codes / building restrictions, that prevent churches from being used as temporary winter shelters.

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *

*