The 1930s-era Los Angeles County General Hospital that rises 19 stories above the northern edge of Boyle Heights has sat largely unused since 2008.
Now the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is moving forward with plans to reuse the 1.5-million-square-foot hospital as housing for “high-need populations,” including homeless residents and low-income tenants.
“I think at a time, many years back, we were restricted by our budgets and our imagination,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis at a board meeting Tuesday. “Now, we’ve arrived at a different point in time, and partly because we have so many challenges, we’re not going to wait.”
In a motion authored by Solis, the supervisor says the county should address one of those challenges— the “tremendous need for homeless, low income, and high-need population residential options”— by repurposing the hospital as housing with related supportive services, like a sobering center and job training.
The motion calls for a study looking into how that conversion could happen and how the county could pay for it.
The board unanimously approved the motion Tuesday.
The old hospital is surrounded by the newer LA County and USC Medical Center facilities, which opened about 10 years ago. The first floor of the building has been home to a collection of nonprofits focused on health and social services for the last four years.
Completed in 1933, the Art Deco buildings were featured in exterior shots and the opening sequence of the long-running ABC soap opera General Hospital. The hospital features interior murals by Hugo Ballin, whose work also appears in the Central Library and the Los Angeles Times building in Downtown LA’s Civic Center.
The hospital is “notable for its relationship to the Chicano Movement of the 1970s and community organizing in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s and ’90s,” says the Los Angeles Conservancy.
General Hospital was also the site of more than 200 forced sterilizations on women from the local community, carried out by hospital doctors in the late 1960s and early ’70s. The board of supervisors officially apologized for these sterilizations in August.
Solis’s motion asks the county’s chief executive officer to prepare the report and return to the board by fall 2019.