The Westside’s Emergency Winter Shelter Program will open six weeks early this year to help deal with a sudden and dramatic increase in homelessness in Council District 11, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilmember Bill Rosendahl announced today.
Starting October 15, First to Serve will provide 50 shelter beds each night at the West LA Armory. In December, when the full Winter Shelter Program begins, at least 160 beds are expected to be available at West LA Armory and the Culver City Armory.
“Opening this shelter early will provide relief to an increasing number of people who have found themselves without a place to sleep at night,” Villaraigosa said. “I expect some additional support will be allocated for outreach workers and other social service providers to make this effort more meaningful in the long term.”
“I am pleased and relieved that the mayor and I were able to identify funds to open the shelter early,” Rosendahl said. “Shelters are not a perfect or a permanent solution, but on a cold and windy night, offering someone a roof and mattress is more humane than forcing them to huddle in a doorway or sleep on a sidewalk.”
Villaraigosa and Rosendahl secured $110,000 for the extended program, reprogramming $90,000 in savings from federal block grant money and $20,000 from Rosendahl’s Roadmap to Housing program, which has been providing permanent housing for people living in their vehicles.
The recent proliferation of homelessness on the Westside has been most apparent on Venice Beach and in Westchester Park. The shelter program will likely pick up and transport people from those locations, Rosendahl said.
The City Council’s Budget & Finance Committee approved the expenditure Monday, and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority approved the plan Tuesday. The full City Council is expected to formally approve the funding next week.