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Some Boyle Heights residents may squash plans to build apartments for the homeless

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The project would have put 49 units at First and Lorena streets

The vacant lot where the 49-unit homeless housing development is proposed.
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Editor’s note: This story was originally published on October 3. It has been updated throughout to reflect the latest information

A proposal to build 49 apartments for the homeless has stalled amid staunch opposition from Boyle Heights residents.

The project—slated for a city-owned site at East First and Lorena streets next to the popular El Mercado marketplace—might be hitting the skids in the midst of a housing shortage and homelessness crisis.

The $23-million development, called Lorena Plaza, has been years in the making, and it already has funding lined up. It also has a developer on board, the nonprofit group A Community of Friends.

But it was unpopular from start. Some residents oppose the project on environmental grounds (there’s an abandoned oil well on the long-vacant property) and because of the site’s “proximity to a lively restaurant and shopping mall,” which they say would be a distraction detrimental to homeless people “trying to start a new life,” the New York Times says.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar, who represents the area, has opposed the project “since at least 2013,” says the Los Angeles Times. He has said the city is trying to strong-arm the project into the community despite objections from residents.

In August, the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management committee, chaired by Huizar, granted an appeal of the $23-million development.

If upheld by the full City Council, the appeal will trigger a full environmental review, which “could further delay—and potentially derail” the project, says the LA Times.

The roadblocks thrown in front of this project could be signs of the struggle ahead for building homeless housing in LA funded by voter-approved Proposition HHH, say some homeless advocates, and a reminder that, unfortunately, getting taxpayers to approve $1.2 billion to house the homeless might have been the easy part of the equation.

The appeal hasn’t yet been scheduled to go before the council, leaving its fate up in the air for now. Rick Coca, communications director and senior advisor for Huizar, says that the appeal hasn’t been added to the council’s calendar because “Councilmember Huizar has called for the applicant and the appellant to meet to see if there is some middle ground that they can agree on.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Lorena Plaza would be funded by Proposition HHH. It has not received funding from HHH.