April19churchwebYet another homeless person in your neighborhood...or do you see a homeless person creating shelter outside an empty church?

City Hall's answer to homelessness seems to begin and end with "affordable housing" a solution that exists down the road. Part of that solution is to force developers of new apartment buildings to include some "low income affordable" units. But will this and the low income buildings the city is promising be enough? Increased rental rates caused by increasing population density and gentrification, along with  decades of neglect by our mayors and city council members, have caused the  homeless population to spiral out of control.

Until the homeless find their way into affordable housing, what do they do? Where do they go when it is pouring rain or temperatures soar?  When they have to go to the bathroom? What temporary solutions are offered by the city?  All over Los Angeles huge churches sit empty except for Sunday service.  Churches that were mandated to help the poor by their creator.  Recently, during the exceptional rainstorms, McCarty Church on Adams attempted to offer their space to a reputable organization that would bus in homeless youth who had been termed out of foster care with no place to go. They could shower, spend the night in a safe, warm shelter and get bussed back in the morning.  A few furious neighbors rallied against the project and it was prevented. Not sure where those kids ended up.

April19SeniorwebOn the corner of Washington and Arlington sits the George and Helen Senior Center in a city-owned building that is a historic fire station. A large building with two floors of empty rooms. On the door it claims a variety of services for seniors, but all it has offered for years, is a senior lunch program provided by People's Coordinated Services. For a few hours a day a group of anywhere from about 5 - 15 approved seniors would gather for lunch. There was never any active outreach in the community to let other seniors know about the program.  Outside the building, under the shade of the trees and gathered for protection from summer heat, are local homeless. Unless there were seniors in the group, there was no food for them.  Why hasn't the city, who owns the building, partnered with organizations set up to feed and provide services for the homeless?  Why haven't they allowed temporary shelter during the rains or harmful heatwaves?  Why does this building sit empty?

Why have the homeless languished and grown in numbers in our district, ignored except for "sweeps"? or until it became a city-wide crisis? In his over 11 years in office, why didn't our current Councilmember Wesson get focused and creative and reach out to existing organizations already assisting the poor in his district to ask for ideas or partner with them? Because the poor don't typically vote? Why hasn't the city partnered with the many local churches and existing homeless outreach organizations to come up with solutions for temporary shelters? How many other city-owned buildings sit empty while the homeless find shade in their shadows?

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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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