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‘Emergency’ homeless shelter to rise in heart of Koreatown

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Mayor Eric Garcetti wants 14 more in other parts of the city

Site of Koreatown homeless shelter
The shelter will rise from a city-owned parking lot near the intersection of Wilshire and Vermont boulevards.
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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday that the first emergency homeless shelter to open under an initiative he announced last month will be located in booming Koreatown, less than a block from the Wilshire/Vermont subway station.

The neighborhood has developed quickly in recent years, with more than 50 major projects still on the way. But, like most parts of Los Angeles, it’s also seen rising levels of homelessness.

According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Council District 10, which includes Koreatown, was home to more than 1,500 homeless residents in 2017—a 36 percent increase over a year earlier.

City Council President Herb Wesson, who represents District 10, promised Wednesday that new shelters like this one would “serve as beacons of hope for Angelenos looking to transition out of homelessness.”

The temporary housing center, set to rise from a city-operated parking lot, will include beds, showers, bathrooms, and storage space. It’s being established in response to a “shelter crisis” declared by Garcetti in April. Thanks to new legislation at the state level, that declaration eases or eliminates restrictions on new homeless shelters constructed on city-owned properties.

The mayor also proposed $20 million for the 2018-19 city budget to be divided up among all 15 council districts, ideally allowing each to establish a 100-bed shelter.

As the number of homeless residents continues to rise in Los Angeles, local officials have launched a number of programs aimed at housing many of the nearly 43,000 people in LA County living on streets and sidewalks. But these efforts aren't expected to achieve overnight success.

In the meantime, Garcetti says new shelters will give people a place to stay short-term, and to get connected with outreach workers and service providers. If all goes according to plan, the facilities will remain in place for three years, buying time for construction of new affordable housing.

As part of the Measure HHH initiative, approved by LA voters in 2016, the city plans to build 10,000 units of supportive housing geared toward homeless residents over 10 years.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that each council district could add “a 1,000-bed shelter.” That should have read “a 100-bed shelter.”