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Rich Guy Wants to Reopen Decrepit Old LA County Poor Farm

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George Atkinson is a Bellflower real estate broker who drives a white Corvette, so you should already know how you're going to feel about his terrible idea for housing the homeless, but here it is anyway: he'd like to restart the LA County Poor Farm in Downey. Atkinson drives past the ol' Poor Farm, started in 1887, on his regular shortcut on the way to the golf course, because he is a Dickens-style avatar for wealth inequality in the US, and he's noticed that those hundred-year-old buildings are just sitting there, abandoned and completely unsafe even to access. Perfect for the homeless.

The Poor Farm (later Sunny Acres) was founded by the county in 1887 and designed by the team that worked on St. Vibiana and the Pico House, according to the LA Times (who also reported in 1902 that the farm was "wrapped in sunbeams" and a "delightful innovation"). The farm grew rapidly at the end of the nineteenth century; hundreds of residents farmed hundreds of acres and sold oranges, livestock, and dairy products to help sustain operations. The 1902 story says that, in the men's wards, "each resident was provided with bedding, a chair and a small bed stand." But the whole homeless farm thing was phased out in the 1930s and since then the site has been split up and largely redeveloped (north of the Imperial Highway it's now the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center).

The old Poor Farm buildings are still there, though, "so old that they're now unsafe to even enter." Atkinson, however, has a completely uninformed optimism about their potential: "This place is something that can easily be refurbished and used to house the homeless." (Unclear if he would expect today's chronically homeless--many of whom are grappling with severe mental illness or lifelong addictions--to band together and actually work the land.) He's "written and emailed everybody" to alert them to his completely impractical plan, and has so far heard from no one, except apparently the LA Times.
· Seeing a solution for the homeless in the old L.A. County Poor Farm [LAT]