Gayley Avenue bridge housing center stalled by regulations.
By Sam Catanzaro
Development of a homeless shelter that was planned in the heart of Westwood Village has been canceled due to hurdles with city regulations.
At the May 8 North Westwood Neighborhood Council (NWNC) meeting, it was announced that the city canceled plans to create homeless bridge housing at the Chabad of Westwood due to difficulty working with city regulations and contractual obligations and expectations.
The shelter was part of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s A Bridge Home campaign. In this program, Mayor Garcetti has asked every Councilmember to look at homeless encampments in their district and find locations for a bridge housing facility.
Mayor Garcetti’s program seeks to provide temporary housing to individuals who have received a housing voucher but are still waiting for a unit to become available.
“When someone gets a housing voucher, it may take them months, or even longer, to find an available unit. And in the meantime, they’re essentially told to wait in a tent on the sidewalk,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin who represents much of West Los Angeles.
In December, Los Angeles City Council instructed the City Administrative Officer, with the assistance of the Chief Legislative Analyst, the Bureau of Engineering and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to evaluate the property at 741 Gayley Avenue, a building currently owned by Chabad Westwood, to determine if the property is suitable for development as a crisis and bridge housing facility.
Bridge housing is different than the City’s emergency winter shelters, which separate couples and family members by gender and prohibit individuals from bringing personal belongings.
“In bridge housing, people have a place to call their own, 24-hours, seven days a week. They have access to restrooms, showers, storage and three meals a day. Residents are allowed to bring their belongings, bring their pets and stay with their spouses, partners and family members,” said Christina Miller, Senior Project Manager in the Homeless Strategies Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
While the plans to create a bridge housing facility on Galey Avenue appears to have stalled, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz, who represents Westwood, is expected to choose another location.
“In order to best address the problem of homelessness in the City, and help homeless individuals make the transition to stable housing, homeless shelter bed capacity should be expanded Citywide,” Koretz said.
In addition, just west of the 405, construction of a bridge housing center on the West Los Angeles VA Campus is currently underway. This shelter will house approximately 100 veterans and is expected to open this summer.
Across the street from the VA, the County of Los Angeles is hoping to open a bridge housing center for non-veterans at the West Los Angeles National Gaurd Armory on Federal Avenue.