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City to look at building homeless housing in Echo Park

Red marker indicates the city property that could be considered a homeless housing site

Echo Park — The City Council today directed staff to study the feasibility of building housing for the homeless  on city-owned property near the neighborhood’s main commercial strip.

The site in the 1100 block of Glendale Boulevard just south of Sunset Boulevard is currently occupied by an outdoor handball and basketball court operated by El Centro Del Pueblo, a social services nonprofit. El Centro has opposed the proposal, saying it could interfere with the services it provides.

13th District Councilman Mitch O’Farrell introduced the proposal last May as officials look for sites to build housing for the homeless and shelters in numerous neighborhoods.  O’Farrell has also proposed turning a public parking lot in Hollywood into an emergency homeless shelter.

The Echo Park properties “may be suitable for development as permanent supportive housing to help address the city’s homelessness and housing crisis,” said O’Farrell’s City Council motion.

What exactly could be built on the site,  a narrow property wedged between an alley behind The Echo nightclub and a church parking garage, has not not been determined.

With today’s vote, the City Administrative Officer with the help of other departments will start to review the site to determine whether it is suitable for development of “permanent supportive housing,” which can take many forms.

It’s not known when the review will be completed.

The City Council also voted today to move forward with proposals to set up homeless shelters in Koreatown and other neighborhoods, a move that has drawn intense opposition from some residents.

Screenshot 2015-12-10 at 3.10.51 PM

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36 comments

  1. Build homeless housing next to mitch o’ farrels house and next to garcetti’s house please.

    • I second that!

    • The location is a hop, skip, and jump to O’Farrell’s office at the very least.
      Perhaps someone on NextDoor attended the meeting?
      Shouldn’t we be discussing the cost of housing/apts. rising as well and be working on more low income structures and treatment as well here?

  2. On June 21 Eastsider wrote: “El Centro Del Pueblo, a social services nonprofit, is hosting a community meeting on Wednesday, June 27 about a proposal to build transitional housing on a portion of its ball courts and playground behind The Echo nightclub. El Centro is opposed to the proposal from Councilman Mitch O’Farrell. The meeting is scheduled to start at 6 pm at the playground next to El Centro’s office at 1157 Lemoyne, south of Sunset.”

    Please may we have a story about that meeting? Also, why am I not surprised to see transitional morph into “permanent supportive” housing?

    • Sorry, no one from The Eastsider attending that meeting.

    • Transitional housing tends to create “communities” of tents outside the building due a higher turnover from those who have either been evicted / released or ones who are waiting for an eviction to occur so that they can occupy the newly emptied space.

      Permanent supportive housing doesn’t create a scenario where homeless are camping outside…

      • Dorit Dowler-Guerrero

        James I have worked in homeless service for 30 years- I have NEVER experienced tenants outside of transitional housing! And when someone leaves a transitional housing bed, we don’t go to the sidewalk and yell “next”, so anyone sleeping in front of the building.

        • Classic case of “I’m right, you’re wrong” …

          There’s a reason the city is pushing for exclusively PHS, and it’s directly related to the problems caused by high-turnover. Not sure what you’re seeing.. but when tenants are “moved out” of Transitional, they don’t usually have a u-haul with them to transport their things to their new home in the Hollywood Hills.

          • Dorit Dowler-Guerrero

            when client successfully move out of transitional housing they are moving into permanent housing. And it is usually their case manager who helps them do the moving ( i was a case manager for many years and moved 100’s of formerly homeless into their permanent housing)

  3. Why would you build homeless housing on top of recreational space for local kids, instead of the surface parking lot directly across the street. So stupid… people > Cars!

  4. How about converting Angelus Temple’s giant parking structure into supportive housing? One of the Dream Center’s missions is “finding solutions to homelessness.” That building sits empty most of the time, it’s about time they put it to good use.

    • Exactly!!!! 6 days a week the largest structure in echo Park is completely unoccupied. The garage is not only an eyesore but a terrible waste of space

      • If their parking lot could be opened up for public use, maybe housing could be built on one or more of the current public parking lots and the ball courts could be saved. If it were metered, like the current parking lots, maybe that money could go to the temple.the lot could be free on Sunday to anyone with a pass from the temple.

    • Great idea, I’m all for this!

  5. The homeless will fit right in with all the hipsters…I guess they won’t mind having another tent city, filth, drugs and crime right next door to their coffee shops and 3 to 5 thousand dollar a month apartments/home rentals…smh

  6. So disappointing that our city officials are so determined to not create homeless housing, whether permanent or transitional, on the more than 500 city-owned, vacant parcels with no plan by the city of anything else to do with them — as was revealed last week in an article in the Los Angeles Times. All the city officials have been telling us for years is that there is no land available, all the while sitting on more than 500 parcels the Times was able to identify, but because of a mess of city tracking, could not determine whether there were even many more.

    So, instead of putting this housing on those sites, the officials instead decide to eliminate already insufficient parking, as in Koreatown and as proposed for the entire city, and here to eliminate the basketball court used by El Centro del Pueblo, which is an agency to keep kids from getting mixed up with gangs.

    All these years Garcetti promised shelter for the homeless but did NOTHING about it but talk and go for photo ops, and send in more and more police to roust and find reasons to cite or jail homeless, until it blew up and endangered his run to be president. Now he fraudulently talks as if he is the savior of the homeless, like he has worked hard for them, but for his entire career in office he has talked one way but been the greatest enemy of the homeless, constantly seeking to roust them, right from early in his career on the Council.

    All these years all the city has done is constantly roust the homeless from anywhere they are, and seek excuses to jail them. And now, the best O’Farrell can come up with, so many years later, is not to make use of the many vacate city-owned parcels, he can only come up with the idea of attacking an agency that works to keep kids out of gangs.

    I support all the transitional and permanent housing for the homeless we can build. But it is not necessary to undermine other needs, such as eliminating already insufficient parking as in Koreatown (and as is the plan all around the city), or eliminating the basketball court that is important to El Centro’s program. There are lots of parcels all around the city that are vacant and already owned by the city with no plan for them — use those first.

  7. There is a massive saturation of homeless in Echo Park already that the city won’t even touch.

    NONE of the homeless that overflow the streets of Echo Park will be eligible for this housing. They are too young, don’t have children, and don’t want housing/responsibility.

    Now they want to pile another layer of homeless on top of this area. If it gets out of control in any way do you think the city will clean it up? They have proven they will not.

    So it will be people bussed in from Silverlake & Atwater.

    They are trying to make Echo Park “the place we put the homeless” before it gets as gentrified as Silverlake or other areas … effectively stopping Echo Park from that level of growth.

    I’m sure people from SL, Atwater, etc are jumping for joy about this.

    I just love being told by people that aren’t making a sacrifice that I should be OK with people sleeping in my yard and having homeless move in next door.

    • Actually Echo Park IS as gentrified as Silver Lake already. Where have you been? And the “massive saturation” of homeless in Echo Park is no worse than most other places, including Silver Lake. The homeless have shown up all over, ever since the city politicians about 15 years ago started doing everything they can to run them out of Skid Row in downtown near the missions. The city poilti8cians have made the Skid Row area so inhospitable tot he homeless, they have been moving to other locations, such as Echo Park, instead.

      In fact, the city is now putting through a new community plan for the Skid Row area designed gentrify it! The intention is to eliminate the homeless there, and eliminate all the SROs for them — and make a ton of money for real estate speculators buying up the land cheap now and selling high as it gentrifies. That is, the city is making a policy to make speculators rich and run the homeless out — out to places like Echo Park.

      Gee, Garcetti last week delightedly announced that the city will no longer have to honor the lawsuit settlement barring it from rousting the homeless sleeping on the sidewalks in Skid Row at night, because he claims the city has met the requirement in that settlement for 5,000 new units for the homeless built (his count is disputed). Garcetti wears some very brutal and harsh eyeglasses, sees no evil in what he said and plans to do. And that policy he has crafted, between the gentrification of Skid Row and to send in the police even overnight when they are sleeping, will only send the rest of them to other neighborhoods, such as Echo Park. And leave the soup kitchens behind on Skid Row.

      • Skid Row isn’t going anywhere. It may shrink a little, but ultimately that’s a good thing.

        Economic productivity and property values reach their apex downtown due to the intensity of land use and agglomeration of jobs and people… so not only is it important to milk that for all it’s worth (more tax base = more programs and services.)

        But also, we just don’t get much bang for our buck as taxpayers buying property for shelters there. Better to build in less expensive areas of the city as you can build a lot more housing for the same price (not sure where you got the idea that it’s cheap to buy buildings in Skid Row… that land is worth a helluva lot more per square foot than anywhere in Echo Park or Silver Lake.)

        Downtown already shoulders way too much of the burden to begin with. Concentrated poverty is like quicksand… mixed income neighborhoods are much better at lifting people out of despair.

        This is a regional problem. Every city and neighborhood in LA county needs to have some skin in the game.

        • Skid Row does NOT go for the same price as Grand Avenue! Cheap is relative. If they buy now at what you consider a high price, just wait until you see the price once the area gentrifies!

          If we eliminate 100 SROs on Skid Row and Garcetti then has photo ops about how much progress we are making by building 100 units of housing for the homeless some long distance away, has anything been improved, has there been any gain, and at what price has that gain not happened?

          If all the soup kitchens and shelters for the homeless are on Skid Row, how does eliminating the homeless there help the drastic and immediate needs of the homeless? If the homeless are kicked out of Skid Row, how will the soup kitchens feed them, how will those homeless get shelter for the night?

          Yes, with the homeless run out by gentrification, Skid Row will no longer exist. It will be just another neighborhood for the wealthy. Wealthy people do not pay that price for a mixed neighborhood — they run the mix out. Mixing is merely a short term transitional situation to full gentrification.

  8. We already have a surplus of homeless housing in echo park;

    My park
    My other park
    my sidewalks
    Behind my grocery store
    My freeways
    The grass infront of my apt

    We need more??

  9. Wow folks –so much compassion I’m overwhelmed. Glad that a sense of decency still exists in Echo Park.

    And yes, homelessness isn’t an easy problem to deal with. And yes, I live in Echo Park – nearly 30 years – now with my own home but at one time single mom using welfare and food stamps.

    I am finding it hard to hope that none of you NIMBY folks ever find yourselves in the shoes of the homeless – but I’ll try.

    • If everyone who used the word “NIMBY” took in ONE homeless person then think of the dent it would make in the population on the streets.

      But instead, NAATS (No action, All talk) just like to tell strangers they should be more compassionate because it makes them feel good about THEMSELVES.

      You care so much? Lead by example. You want to feed them? Then treat them like humans and do it at the table where you eat.

      But don’t tell me I should be OK with “neighbors” living in my yard that you won’t invite over to your house for dinner.

      • I’ve taken them into my home from time to time. And the article here is talking of a shelter not in your yard but in the commercial district of Echo Park. The only real issue here is whether some other use must be eliminated in order to make way for this use.

        But to demand no place for housing for them — as you are, since no place in the city has no one around it — yes, that is quite lacking in compassion. Its also lacking in common sense, as it would mean it is better to have them unsupported and desperate on the street rather than supported and safe and calming in a proper shelter where they can get needed services.

        • Tom, I understand you think you’ve got this boiled down, but it is not that simple.

          1. I’ve taken them into my home from time to time.

          That’s anecdotal. I’m saying put up (a homeless person) or stop telling strangers how morally superior you think you are. You & bykergrrl could go out tonight and take 2 homeless people off the street. But it’s easier to type about how much you care on a forum.

          2. And the article here is talking of a shelter not in your yard but in the commercial district of Echo Park.

          – “My yard” is a euphemism. And a direct reference to the word NIMBY(ard)

          3. The only real issue here is whether some other use must be eliminated in order to make way for this use.”

          – To you. Other people have different issues here. Just because you see this from one angle does not mean it applies to all.

          4. But to demand no place for housing for them — as you are

          – I’m not. That’s something you read into it. I support housing. I don’t support this plan of bussing in homeless from all over district 13 into an area that is already overrun with transients that the city has no control over.

          5. it would mean it is better to have them unsupported and desperate on the street rather than supported and safe and calming in a proper shelter where they can get needed services.

          – see #4.

          • No one is talking of bringing all the homeless from all over the district to that one spot in Echo Park.

            You use hot button language and stretch everything out of shape. This shelter is not something singular, it is one of many being planned all over. This is not the end, this is the beginning. Echo Park is not being singled out.

            The anecdote was in reference to the accusation. If you don’t like the fact of the anecdote, then don’t accuse.

            The euphemism went both ways. I countered your’s with the same. But you don’t like your own language pointed right back at you to show you error and presumptions.

  10. iheartechopark

    A challenge is how do you provide assistance to people who need it without creating mini-skid rows all over the city and encouraging people to come to California in even higher numbers.

    I haven’t seen any proposals on what these interim facilities would look like, how they would be staffed, how long would they be in there, what type of security would be in place so that the folks who come there don’t become an issue for the businesses, residents and schools in the area and what the long term plan is.

    . I have no idea how you assist and support the truly mentally ill, or folks that have been homeless so long that they don’t want or have difficulty returning to “normal” life. I’ve seen interviews with some folks who are homeless who say they’d never want to stay in a facility with a bunch of other homeless people.

    if anyone has links that address the above please post them

  11. WHY HERE COUNCILMAN O’FARRELL? PLEASE ANSWER THE QUESTION?
    You are willing to sacrifice the only mental health counseling for at risk youth! WHY?

  12. First of all I want to thank the over 100 people who attended our Town Hall community meeting in June and provided input and their opinion about the city’s plan to built housing in El Centro Del Pueblo’s playground area.

    In an effort to better inform the community what we do and how this housing project will impact our services, we would like to invite the community to visit our website at http://www.ecdpla.org. If you are interested in signing our supporters list opposing this housing project, please clink on “About” and then “Save our playground” and sign the supporters list.

    Since Councilman Mitch O’Farrell or any of his staff did not attend the community meeting to provide any information about his plans, I will try to provide an update based on the information we have. The City’s plans to build housing for the homeless in our playground area is still being considered and moving forward.

    Although El Centro has been accused of misleading the community and poisoning the well by the council office, our community meeting in June, which the council office had be invited to, was an attempt to have open discussion about this project with the community by Councilman O’Farrell and El Centro. Although they continue to say there is nothing to report, we have heard that they have met with select members of the community and have express that this project is a done deal. Which means that the majority of the community’s opinions will not be heard or considered until they have all the permits and contracts approved and signed and all their political and select community friends lined up.

    We have not had any further meetings with the Councilman or his staff regarding this project. In reading the many post and comments on the Eastsider and Next Door, with more than 80% of the comments opposing this project on our playground or in this immediate area, that the community is not in favor of the motion or plans that Councilman O’Farrell is recommending. And yet they feel there is nothing to discuss with the community.

    Thank you for your time and support,
    Robert Aguayo
    Deputy Director
    El Centro Del Pueblo

  13. I just watched a news report about Echo Park homeless on Ch 4. The news was contacted by a woman and her husband who say they are being discriminated against because they’re homeless. Firstly, if you are so broke and homeless, how can you afford an iPhone, which you flaunted in front of the camera. Secondly, how can you afford makeup and new clothes (of which you claimed came from the 99cent store). You can’t bull crap a bull crapper. 99% of people have been to a 99cent store and knows what they sell. Also, this may be taken as judgmental, but if you are homeless and cannot afford rent, food, etc., why are you about 150lbs overweight? You are obviously eating very well. Other homeless I see in my area are thin and a bit weak. You did not do yourself any favors by appearing on TV. In fact, you just made it worse.

  14. This post is a lengthy but important one with updated information and I thank you in advance for your time.
    Our Board of Directors recently send Councilman Mitch O’Farrell an formal letter to state that we officially oppose the planned housing for homeless project being built on our playground. Last week, El Centro’s Board and some staff met with staff from Councilman O’Farrell’s office as well as with Representatives from the City . At the meeting, alot of information was provided about the project although not many specifics because the councilman’s staff and city reps repeatedly stated that the project was still in the early planning stages ( which is different from what they are telling certain members of the community that this is a done deal).The meeting ended with both sides repeating their position with the council office stating that the project was moving forward and El Centro’s Board and staff voicing our opposition to the project because of the location.

    But 3 things were mentioned at the meeting that was very interesting: 1) the city representative mentioned that our playground was on a list of available parking lots and was selected from that list by either the Mayor’s office or Councilman O’Farrell office or both. I ask them why were we still listed as a parking lot and not a playground. They did not answer why. Makes you wonder who kept us listed this way. 2) The city rep and Councilman O’Farrell staff mentioned that the proposed project could be up to 7 floors high and that is why they selected our site to match the height of the church’s parking structure next door and would contain approximately 96 units ( although we have heard them tell other that it could be up to 200 units). I ask what percentage of the building would be dedicated to the homeless and the city rep mentioned that it has to be a minimum of 20% and could be up to 50%. When I mentioned that if it was 20 to 50% of the units for homeless that it would mean that they only needed a building with a maximum of 3 to 4 floors to serve the same amount of homeless and that this size of building ( 3 to 4 floors) could be built in another location that is not zone for taller building which is their reasoning for selecting our site instead of another site. The city rep quickly responded that they didn’t know the exact percentage and that it could be 75% after hearing my comments which make me feel like they change their comments or information depending on what point they are trying to get across or what group or individuals they are meeting with.
    The third thing is that I am aware that the Mayor’s office was requiring each council district to develop one transitional/bridge housing for the homeless in each district and Councilman O’Farrell has already done this in Hollywood. So what is this project. Again I feel that this is a backdoor attempt to bring development into our community without going thru the proper procedures and environmental requirements. This would benefit his developer friends/donors using the homeless issue as a cover at the expense our our children, services and the community.

    During this meeting, some of our families and clients march outside of Councilman O’Farrell office with signs that read “Save our playground” and were filmed by channel 7 and channel 52 (look it up online). Councilman O’Farrell also was interview at a different site( he was not at the meeting, of course not) and he called El Centro “disingenuous” as if we are the ones who change their stories depending on who we speak to and lied for 4 years (Christine Peters) that they were going to help El Centro secure a new playground lease and never approached us about this plan until we accidentally found out about it and demanded a meeting with Christine Peters. So he is calling us something that they actually are, sound a little like Trump.
    There is so much more that was discuss at this meeting but these were the 3 that stuck in my mind. Maybe at the next community meeting, more can be shared and they will show up to answer the community’s questions. We are aware that they are meeting with select groups in the community and telling different information to each group to appeal to their concerns in order to get them to support their project before they meet with the entire community. Again, O’Farrell told me that I was “poisoning the well” because we scheduled a community meeting in June which he and his staff were invited to but did not attend. Now they are going around “poisoning the well” to get support for their project. Trump tactics again.

    Please support El Centro and the community’s effort in this struggle by signing our support list at http://www.ecdpla.org. Thank you for your time.
    Robert Aguayo
    Deputy Director

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