Plans to Expand Homeless Outreach

September 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

(CNS) – City Councilman Jose Huizar announced an expansion of homeless outreach services in downtown Los Angeles last week, with a five-member team looking to replicate a similar program that has seen success in Skid Row.

The new team is operated by the non-profit The People Concern and is funded by the county. It consists of experts in mental health and substance abuse, a case manager, a medical provider and a peer with lived experience.

The program is based on the City-County-Community (C3) outreach program which began in Skid Row in January 2016 and will provide services throughout downtown. In the first half of this year, C3 has permanently housed 128 people directly from the streets of Skid Row, according to Huizar’s office.

“Like all of Los Angeles, downtown is in the midst of a homeless crisis and we have an incredible need — particularly for those suffering from mental illnesses — for increased services to get people real-time assistance,” Huizar said.

Huizar also called for a new approach in assisting the estimated one-third of the city’s homeless population who suffer from mental illnesses.

Free Concert Today at Union Station

May 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

In the mood for some great music? Head to Union Station this evening where East L.A. based Camalanche will perform from 4-6 p.m in the East Portal.

The Chicano-Jarocho group plays and promotes the traditional Son Jarocho in the spirit of the fandango, a celebration of music and dance.

Get a taste of the groups exciting sound then head across the street for dinner and shopping at Olvera Street or take Metro to other local hot spots for an evening of great fun without the hassle of looking for parking.

East L.A.-based Chicano-Son Jarocho group Camalanche.

East L.A.-based Chicano-Son Jarocho group Camalanche.

Continue the weekend fun Saturday by celebrating Asian Pacific Heritage Month with a special Metro Art Moves tour. The tour, led by artist and curator Sam Lee, starts at 10:30 a.m., at the Gold Line Chinatown Station – street level – before continuing on to tour stops The Wheels of Change of Chusien Chang in Chinatown Station, Through the Looking Glass or Traveling at the Speed ??of Light (Rail) Clement Hanami station at East LA / Civic Center.

The tour ends at noon – just in time for lunch. We suggest you go to Purgatory Pizza, opposite the Pico/Aliso station. Show your TAP card and receive 10% off your order.

‘Downtown L.A. is Full of Mice,’ Says Alleged Slumlord

April 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

An accused slumlord brushed off complaints by tenants about rodent infestation at his 26-unit South Los Angeles apartment building, according to an excerpt of his deposition testimony shown to a jury Wednesday.

“I mean, downtown L.A. is full of mice,” Franco Haiem said in explaining why he could not do anything about the conditions.

Wednesday was the second day of trial in Los Angeles Superior Court of a lawsuit filed on behalf of the tenants at 2108 Maple Ave. in July 2013. Among the allegations are negligence, breach of the implied warranty of habitability, premises liability, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unlawful collection of rent.

In their court papers, defense attorneys say many of the tenants never notified their landlord of any problems and that repairs were prevented when the residents changed the locks on their doors without notifying management.

The lawyers also say the residents knew of the conditions there when they chose to sign their lease agreements.

Haiem’s deposition was one of many items analyzed by property manager Stephen Donell, who was hired by attorneys representing more than 90 tenants suing Haiem’s company, Bracha Investments LLC. Bracha Investments owned the building from July 2008 until December 2012.

Donell said Haiem also testified in his deposition that he could not remember if he saw the inside of the building or talked to the tenants before he bought it.

Donell said he reviewed documents and found 150 to 200 housing violations at the three-story structure. He testified the problems were among the worst he has seen in more than 30 years as a property manager.

“The conditions were extremely severe,” he said. “There were roaches crawling in people’s ears and getting inside electronics. It was very unusual to seem them crawling around in the daytime and that meant they were out foraging because of overcrowding within the walls.”

Donell said the current owner spent about $7,000 and successfully eradicated the rodent and insect problem.

Earlier in the day, tenant organizer Amelia Fay-Berquist testified that the apartment building was previously owned by Frank McHugh, a slumlord sentenced to 48 months of probation and forbidden from managing any residential property in the city because of the deteriorated conditions at more than 100 buildings.

She said she set up a meeting with Haiem after learning that some of the conditions that tenants complained of under McHugh were not corrected by their new landlord.

Fay-Berquist said her first meeting with Haiem took place in 2011 at a Starbucks downtown. She said she told him that tenants were unhappy with seeing cockroaches and rodents running free in the building, that plumbing often failed to work and that his on-site manager and maintenance man were both often under the influence.

“He said he would deal with their drinking,” she said. “He offered a $10 rent reduction every month so the tenants could buy a can of Raid.”

Fay-Berquist said she witnessed the maintenance man drunk and smoking indoors during one of her visits. She said that after she told him to go outside if he wanted to smoke, he threw his cigarette to the carpet and stomped on it with one foot.

Fay-Berquist said she did not believe Haiem when he said he had financial problems because he once drove her in a brand new Mercedes Benz.

She said he became upset during a visit to his property by city inspectors.

“He was really distressed,” she said. “He told me, `Just keep the city out of my building, I’ll do anything you say,”’ according to Fay-Berquist.

She went on to described for jurors a series of photos she took at the structure, some depicting mouse and cockroach droppings and others showing mold on walls.

One photo depicted a mouse at the bottom of a vase.

“I saw this thing jumping, so I asked the tenant, ‘Did you guys get a frog?’” Fay-Berquist testified.

Another image depicted a resident’s unopened bag of rice that was laden with mouse droppings.

“The mice still managed to chew their way in,” Fay-Berquist said.

A set of steps in another photo were strewn with debris.

“They were just really dirty stairs,” she said.

Fay-Berquist said she worked for the Inner City Law Center while assisting Haiem’s tenants, but that she later left to pursue graduate studies in public health at UCLA.

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