The Time is Now to Put Homeless Plans to Work

February 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

With the huge number of tents, tarps and cardboard homes covering county sidewalks, riverbeds, and under- and over-paths, and the large number of campers, cars and trailers lining streets in many neighborhoods, we can no longer deny the fact that the homeless crisis in the Los Angeles region is growing at neck-breaking speed.

Officials in both the county and city of Los Angeles this week approved wide-ranging plans to help house the estimated 45,000 plus people who are now homeless, and to stop people from entering those ranks in the future.

Both sets of plans propose a myriad of actions aimed at ending homelessness, such as providing housing vouchers and supporting the building of more affordable and transitional housing, hiring more mental health and social workers to work comprehensively to solve each unique situation.

All these proposals come with a hefty price tag, but the cost of doing nothing is much higher,

There’s no denying that rising rental prices have made it even more difficult for working people living on the margins who with one unexpected expense could wind up on the streets.

Finding low-income and affordable housing is a challenge, especially in neighborhoods where people are dead set against that type of housing being built. We can’t help but wonder if they think people living behind their grocery stores, in campers on their streets, in library parking lots, in parks and on freeway off-ramps are preferable. Do they assume that everyone, including children, who will make those units their home are “undesirable?” All of the housing will be unattractive?

An article in today’s issue spells out in broad terms what both the city and county propose to do and the money they believe is needed to accomplish those goals. It’s clear that there are still many challenges ahead, finding all the money needed being the biggest.

We want to recommend that the city and county strongly consider providing locations where people living in campers and cars can safely park their vehicles. We suggest that those locations include sanitary services, such as portable restrooms and bathing facilities, and proper methods to dispose of waste from the vehicles.

Instead of chasing away people living in “tiny houses,” or worse yet confiscating the houses, officials should be looking for ways to support them as transitional housing until real homes can be built, and housing subsidies provided.

Some worry that providing these places will lead to permanent encampments and homeless neighborhoods, but we believe the greater probability is they will become centralized areas where mental health and medical care services can be provided, and where social service workers can make contact with people in need of more permanent solutions.

We understand that the cure to the homeless crisis is much more complicated than just providing housing, but we have to start somewhere, and we need to start now.

Commerce Opts-In for the 2016 Homeless Count

January 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Commerce City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution to participate in the 2016 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count taking place Jan. 26 to Jan. 28.

The Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA)—a City and County of Los Angeles joint power authority formed to address homelessness—is diligently working on its annual homeless count in the City and County of Los Angeles.

Lea este artículo en Español: Commerce Opta por Inclusión en Conteo de Personas Sin Hogar 2016

In 2009, LAHSA expanded its Opt-In provision to allow more local cities and communities to coordinate homeless counts within their borders using local volunteers from public and private agencies. In 2015, 248 cities and communities—including neighborhood councils—enumerated all of their census tracts.

This year, about 126 cities and communities —including Bell Gardens, Monterey Park, East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights and Northeast Los Angeles — have signed up to take part, according to Kimberly Barnette, LAHSA regional coordinator.

She told EGP they are still working on getting the cities of Montebello and Vernon to join the massive effort.

The Opt-In Program makes it possible for LAHSA, with a high level of confidence, to obtain specific data and totals on the homeless population in every census tract in a city or neighborhood, according to LAHSA spokesperson Naomi Goldman.

“Participation allows jurisdictions to access the methodology of the 2016 Homeless Count to obtain a Point-In-Time Count estimate of the sheltered and unsheltered homeless population,” she told EGP via email. “Opting-in allows cities, neighborhoods and communities to understand the situation, bring resources to local communities and drive civic engagement.”

Barnette—who made a power presentation about LAHSA’s homeless count to the Commerce Council Tuesday—said they have already identified hot spots for homelessness, some of those areas are near Rosewood Park and Atlantic and Washington Boulevards.

Locaciones identificadas donde se congregan desamparados en Commerce y ciudades vecinas. (LAHSA)

Locaciones identificadas donde se congregan desamparados en Commerce y ciudades vecinas. (LAHSA)

In 2015, LAHSA identified over 44,000 homeless living in the Los Angeles regions. Those numbers do not include Long Beach, Pasadena or Glendale.

During the last homeless count, LAHSA identified 52 homeless in Commerce, all of them adults; 20 living in campers, 15 in vans and cars, 9 on the street, 6 in encampments and 2 living in tents.

Over the past two years, Commerce has made assisting the homeless a priority, said Matthew Rodriguez, director of public safety and community services with Commerce.

“We have reached out to as many as possible and have had success with placement in local shelters,” he told EGP, explaining that outreach is conducted through the city’s Social Services Department.

According to Rodriguez, staff refers the city’s homeless to the Salvation Army’s 70-bed shelter in nearby Bell or connect them to the People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) agency in Los Angeles.

Councilwoman Tina Baca del Rio, however, said she is worried that the homeless people in Commerce may not want help because they have found a way of living by earning easy money.

“Panhandling has become a way of life [in Commerce]…[homeless people] say they get a lot of money from people that go to casinos,” she said, asking Barnette to have LAHSA look into that issue.

“Maybe they can get more services instead of relying on panhandling,” she said.

By opting in, Commerce will be responsible for counting all the unsheltered homeless people in the agreed-upon census tracts. They also need to find a deployment site, select a site coordinator and recruit volunteers.

Rodriguez told EGP Commerce has already taken care of almost everything, but are still in need of more volunteers. He said Commerce residents interested in helping can sign up with the Public Safety and Community Services Department located inside City Hall.

Along with volunteers, about 15 city staff and Sheriff deputies will take part in the count, said Rodriguez.

“There are some areas where we don’t want to send volunteers, so it’s better if the officers go there,” he added.

While Commerce has participated the past three years in the homeless count, this time is different, City Administrator Jorge Rifa told EGP.

“Previously, this was under the aegis of the regional Gateway Council of Governments (COG),” a more local and informal count, he said. “During this time period the process has become more formalized and at least for Commerce a much more accurate and thorough process.”

LAHSA expects to deploy about 6,000 volunteers during the three-day count in the city and county.

Since 2005, LAHSA has coordinated six biennial homeless counts, however, starting 2016 the count will occur annually, according to the agency’s website.

For those interested in volunteering or to obtain more information about the 2016 homeless count visit, www.theycountwillyou.com.

—-

Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Grand Jury: Plans for Homeless ‘Grossly Inadequate’

January 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

City and county agencies need to do more to help the thousands of people in the Los Angeles area who lack shelter during this winter’s El Nino storms, the county’s civil grand jury concluded in a report released Wednesday.

The panel’s report says plans submitted last fall by the area’s largest cities, including Los Angeles, are “unconscionable and grossly inadequate” in sheltering those who are forced to live on the streets.
The grand jury is “very concerned that the 2,772 shelter and surge capacity beds planned by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is just a fraction of the number necessary to shelter homeless people in severe weather,” the report states.

The panel recommended that the county and its 88 cities relax building and health codes to make more facilities available to shelter people who are homeless. It also suggested that funds be made available for supplies and equipment that give “minimal sheltering for homeless people who cannot be accommodated in shelters so that they might survive the rainstorms to come.”

The grand jury sent out surveys asking cities to detail their El Nino preparation plans, with Los Angeles responding that the city has 25,686 people who are homeless, 17,687 of whom are without shelter. There were 2,239 beds available in the city at the time of the survey, which needed to be submitted in November, according to the report.

Other cities were also surveyed, including Lancaster, Long Beach, Burbank, West Covina and Pasadena.
The greater Los Angeles area has an estimated 44,000 homeless people.

Vicki Curry, spokeswoman for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, said the report “underscores” the mayor’s own concerns and he will “take its recommendations into consideration as the city continues to address the needs of our homeless residents during these harsh winter months.”

The city recently increased the number of shelter beds by 50 percent and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has create a map of homeless encampments that can be used during the storms, Curry said.

City and county officials said Wednesday they are focused on doing outreach to encourage people living on the streets — whether in cars, makeshift structures or tents — to use additional shelters that were made available in anticipation of the heavy rains.

County officials said there are 2,000 winter shelters, plus another 1,131 beds at seven additional shelters.

Despite the outreach efforts, the majority of the added beds are still available, according to county officials.

If there is a need to accommodate more people, more city and county buildings, such as recreation and parks facilities, can be converted into shelters, officials said.

Prepared for these Wet Winter Days?

January 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The City and County of Los Angeles are working diligently to inform the community about the preparations that can be taken during these stormy days.

Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is informing the L.A.’s homeless population of the pending inclement weather, in an effort to keep them safe and dry.

Each geographical division of the LAPD has identified homeless encampments that are in areas subject to flooding, according to a press release sent to the media.

“Officers are out on foot, advising the homeless of the possible flood danger, as well as passing out flyers with locations of available shelters and property storage options,” stated LAPD.

 

Heavy rain flooded streets in Lincoln Heights Tuesday, causing some traffic incidents. (Photo by Nancy Martinez)

Heavy rain flooded streets in Lincoln Heights Tuesday, causing some traffic incidents. (Photo by Nancy Martinez)

 

Signs are posted, warning that heavy rain can cause floodwaters to rise, and public address systems are being utilized to ensure everyone hears the important information.

LAPD informed that if the Los Angeles Fire Department determines there is a predicted or anticipated rainfall within 24 hours, a Rain Notification Tracking Form must be completed, signed by a Watch Commander and forwarded to LAPD’s Real-Time Analysis & Critical Response Division. That form includes the date, time, location and method used for all notifications.

LAFD is Providing Sandbags

The Los Angeles area is periodically subject to floods that result in property damage. The potential for mudslides and debris flow is greatly increased near recent wildfires. Los Angeles residents—especially those in foothill and low-lying communities, are encouraged to prepare their properties in advance of coming rainstorms.

In an effort to help, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) works closely with the Department of General Services and has ordered more than 200,000 ready-to-fill sandbags, made available at all Neighborhood Fire Stations (Please note that residents are welcomed to no more than 25 bags).

LAFD also works very closely with the Bureau of Street Services and has ordered more than 250 tons of sand made available at several fire stations and convenient community locations.

These are some of the locations where residents can pick up their sand bags:

  • Fire Station 44 (Cypress Park), 1410 Cypress Ave., (213) 485-6244
  • Fire Station 42 (Eagle Rock), 2035 Colorado Blvd., (323) 254-5195
  • Fire Station 2 (Boyle Heights), CD 14 Office, 2130 E. 1st St., (323) 526-9332 .
  • Fire Station 42 (Eagle Rock), CD 14 Office, 2035 Colorado Blvd., (323) 254-5195
  • Fire Station 44 (Cypress Park), 1410 Cypress Ave, (213) 485-6244
  • Fire Station 47 (El Sereno), 4575 Huntington Dr South, (213) 485-6247

It is quite normal for potholes to form during heavy rain seasons. To report any new or existing potholes call 3-1-1.

More El Niño preparedness and emergency information can be obtained at the following websites:

LAFD sand bags pick up: http://www.lafd.org/news/lafd-provides-sandbags-homeowners-1

The City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department

Breaking El Niño emergency information

El Niño preparedness information website: http://www.elninola.com

Refugio de Invierno Abre sus Puertas en Highland Park

December 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Cuando tres hermanas indigentes escucharon que una iglesia en Highland Park pronto abriría un refugio por las noches, rápidamente fueron a comprobarlo. Después de todo, su única opción era continuar durmiendo en el piso de un baño público del parque Sycamore Grove.

Las bancas de la Iglesia All Saints Episcopal les dio la bienvenida con un saco de dormir, una almohada y algunos artículos de aseo.

La pequeña cocina improvisada les ofrece comida caliente mientras que ven películas en el proyector de la iglesia.

Read this article in English: Winter Shelter Opens in NELA

Han pasado más de dos semanas desde que las hermanas comenzaron su ritual nocturno para conseguir una banca en la iglesia—una mejora ante el aire libre y el piso de un baño.

“Es mucho mejor que dormir en el frío”, dice Hope, quien no quiso dar su apellido, de 56 años de edad. Las hermanas fueron de las primeras seis personas en obtener la admisión al refugio de la iglesia cuando se abrió el primero de diciembre.

En pocos días, el Centro de Acceso de Invierno estaba completamente lleno y algunas personas han sido rechazadas, dijo Rebecca Prine, directora voluntaria de Recycled Resources for the Homeless una organización sin fines de lucro de beneficencia pública en el noreste de Los Ángeles.

“Todo ha ido muy bien y nuestra pequeña comunidad está prosperando”, Prine le dijo a EGP. “Confiamos en la generosidad de otros en la comunidad”.

En septiembre, el alcalde Garcetti y los miembros del consejo de la ciudad declararon “estado de emergencia en la falta de vivienda” y comprometieron $100 millones para proporcionar vivienda permanente y transitoria a los necesitados.

Han pasado meses y activistas a favor de los indigentes se han impacientado ante la lenta respuesta de la ciudad.

Las temperaturas están bajando y las tormentas de El Niño están en camino, dijo Prine, explicando que Recycled Resources tuvo que intervenir después de no ver ninguna acción por parte del Consejo de la Ciudad.

El refugio de la iglesia en Highland Park abrió sus puertas el primero de diciembre. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El refugio de la iglesia en Highland Park abrió sus puertas el primero de diciembre. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Los consejos vecinales locales, negocios y voluntarios colaboraron para encontrar un lugar para sus vecinos indigentes. El  reverendo W. Clarke Prescott de la Iglesia All Saints Episcopal aceptó abrir la iglesia como un refugio temporal de invierno.

La iglesia cuenta con espacio para 30 personas por noche. Hay un pequeño espacio en el segundo piso para las personas con niños. Las mascotas también son bienvenidas.

Pero se necesita más ayuda, dijo Prine, criticando a las autoridades municipales por no actuar.

Representantes de la Agencia de Servicios para Desamparados de Los Ángeles (LAHSA) visitaron el refugio para evaluar su elegibilidad para fondos financieros.

En el conteo del 2015, LAHSA identificó más de 25.000 indigentes en la ciudad de Los Ángeles. En todo el Condado, la indigencia ha aumentado un 12% desde el conteo de 2013, de 39.461 a 44.359.

El lunes, la portavoz de LAHSA Kelli Pezzelle le dijo a EGP que la iglesia no cumple con los requisitos de las normas de seguridad de la agencia. Entre los problemas, las bancas son demasiado estrechas para ser utilizadas como camas y no hay extinguidores, dijo Pezzelle.

La agencia rechazó esta semana la solicitud de financiamiento para el Centro de Acceso del invierno, pero revirtió su decision el miércoles.

Según el portavoz del concejal Cedillo Fredy Ceja, su jefe envió una carta a LAHSA instando a la agencia a que reconsidere su decisión “dada la urgente necesidad de un refugio inmediato”.

La carta de Cedillo señaló que la iglesia “es el único refugio actualmente disponible para los indigentes del noreste de LA y el apoyo de LAHSA en este sitio ampliará el alcance de los servicios disponibles en la zona”.

Despues de la reversión de LAHSA, Cedillo dijo que “inmediatamente presentó una moción para poner el centro en la lista de refugios de invierno, asegurando protecciones bajo la crisis de refugios. Esto les permitirá obtener fondos de LAHSA y operar durante la temporada de invierno”, dijo el concejal en un comunicado de prensa.

El concejal José Huizar también intervino para apoyar el centro, obteniendo la aprobación del consejo que le permite transferir $20.000 en fondos discrecionales de su oficina para el refugio.

El miércoles el consejo de la ciudad también aprobó la moción que Cedillo introdujo el martes pidiendo al Departamento de Recreación y Parques que abra inmediatamente la Armería Bridewell en Highland Park—que se encuentra vacante—para servir como un refugio de invierno.

La petición de Cedillo se produce después de la aprobación del consejo de la moción del concejal José Huizar para asignar $12.5 millones de “ayuda inmediata para los indigentes, rápido realojamiento y refugios de invierno” en toda la ciudad.

El financiamiento incluye $10 millones para subsidios de “Realojamiento Rápido” para casi 1.000 indigentes para ayudarles con el alquiler o los costos de la mudanza. Los fondos restantes incrementarán camas en albergues en este invierno en más de un 50%—a un total de 1.300. Estas camas se destinarán a los que viven a orillas del río de Los Ángeles en Tujunga y Arroyo Seco.

“Mientras que parte de este dinero ayuda a preparar la infraestructura a largo plazo para hacer frente a la falta de vivienda, la mayor parte del dinero es para acciones inmediatas para ayudar a la gente a que no estén en las calles”, dijo Huizar.

El refugio se ha mantenido abierto con el apoyo de la comunidad. Los Consejos Vecinales de Highland Park y Eagle Rock han aprobado fondos para el centro: $1.000 y $4.000, respectivamente.

Aunque todo el mundo en el noreste de Los Ángeles está hablando de la falta de vivienda, nadie está haciendo nada al respecto, explicó el presidente del Consejo Vecinal de Eagle Rock, David Greene.

“Las Juntas Vecinales pueden y se deben ir a la vanguardia en temas que son demasiado políticos o demasiado locales para que el ayuntamiento y el alcalde los enfrenten de una manera oportuna”, le dijo a EGP. “Entonces, mientras que la ciudad de Los Ángeles busca cómo encontrar y gastar los millones de dólares en su ‘guerra contra la falta de vivienda’, el ERNC vio una manera de hacer algo acerca de la situación inmediatamente en el noreste de LA”.

Las personas donan comida caliente, ropa, libros y alimentos para mascotas; voluntarios manejan el refugio que esta abierto de 7pm a 8am.

Nereida Vazquez (der.) junto a su mamá y a su hija en la apertura del refugio en la iglesia de Highland Park. Vazquez se enorgullece que su hija sea voluntaria en algunas ocasiones. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Nereida Vazquez (der.) junto a su mamá y a su hija en la apertura del refugio en la iglesia de Highland Park. Vazquez se enorgullece que su hija sea voluntaria en algunas ocasiones. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Para los afortunados en conseguir un sitio para pasar la noche en la iglesia, este se convierte en un refugio seguro y cálido del frío invierno.

Cada noche, la voluntaria Nereida Vázquez da la bienvenida a los residentes del refugio y a veces pasa la noche como auxiliar. Como ex drogadicta y víctima de violencia doméstica, Vásquez dice que sabe de primera mano el valor de tener un lugar para dormir, ya que ella fue indigente y el departamento de servicios a  familias le quito a sus hijos para dárselos a su madre.

Se siente muy bien estar ahora en un lugar donde se ayuda a los necesitados, le dijo a EGP.

Recycled Resources espera vincular a los participantes a los servicios de apoyo que necesitan para mejorar su situación antes de que el refugio temporal cierre en marzo.

Mónica Alcaraz, voluntaria con Recycled Resources y presidente de la junta vecinal de Highland Park, le dijo a EGP que evalúan la situación de cada visitante al refugio y le recomiendan la asistencia adecuada.

“Los casos son diferentes, algunos de ellos quieren solicitar una vivienda, otros necesitan documentación básica como una [identificación] o la tarjeta del seguro social”, dijo.

“Estoy orgullosa del trabajo que hemos sido capaces de hacer como comunidad y para nuestra comunidad”, dijo Prine.

Según Hope, Recycled Resources la ha ayudado a ella y a sus hermanas a solicitar para la vivienda de Sección 8 y esperan ser aceptadas antes del cierre del refugio.

“No somos malas personas, simplemente vivimos en las calles y necesitamos ayuda”, dijo con sentimiento de tristeza.

“Pero sé que pronto voy a salir de esta situación”.

Para saber más acerca del refugio y como ayudar visite www.recycledresources.org.

—-

Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

City of L.A. Budgets $12 Million To House Homeless

December 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The city of Los Angeles has set aside $12.4 million to help house the homeless and provide more temporary shelter during El Nino storms expected this winter, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles City Council members announced Wednesday.

The funding, proposed by Garcetti and approved Wednesday by the City Council, includes $10 million for “rapid re-housing” subsidies for nearly 1,000 transients to help them with rent or move-in costs.

The remaining funds will increase shelter beds this winter by more than 50 percent – to a total of 1,300. These beds will be targeted to those living in the Los Angeles River bed and the Tujunga and Arroyo Seco washes.

“We will not be intimidated by the scale of this problem, or listen to those who say it is intractable,” Garcetti said of the high number of homeless in the city.

“We must remain laser-focused on solving this crisis – both on the short-term fixes and long-term strategies that will keep our residents safe and off the streets,” he said.

Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who co-chairs the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, said the $12.4 million is “just the beginning of the funds we hope to release to bring about real change to the people living on the streets here in Skid Row, South Los Angeles, the Westside and Valley.”

While more needs to be done, “we have to plug the hole and stop people from falling into homelessness, as well,” he said.

Harris-Dawson’s committee co-chair, Councilman Jose Huizar, also said the funds are a “down-payment on our $100 million commitment to fund a strategic plan” to counter homelessness in the city of Los Angeles.

City leaders have said that a “battle plan” for tackling homelessness will likely be released in early 2015, and include a partnership with the county of Los Angeles.

Veteranos, Indigentes y Personas de Bajos Recursos Disfrutan de Un Nuevo Hogar

November 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Juan Ortiz caminó entre la multitud el lunes por la mañana sintiéndose emocionado y agradecido de ser parte de la ceremonia de apertura de Teague Terrace, un nuevo proyecto de vivienda de apoyo permanente.

Pero sobre todo, Ortiz estaba contento de tener un lugar al cual ahora puede llamar hogar.

Él vive en uno de los 56 apartamentos en el nuevo complejo habitacional localizado en la frontera de Glassell Park y Eagle Rock en el noreste de Los Ángeles, el cual abrió sus puertas en agosto.

Read this article in English: Help Starts With A Home

Ortiz le dijo a EGP que la depresión y otras enfermedades lo llevaron a perder su casa, su negocio de panadería y su familia. Pasó más de dos años viviendo en las calles de Long Beach, hasta que un trabajador social le ayudó a reintegrarse a la sociedad.

El edificio Teague Terrace, de aproximadamente $18 millones de dólares, es el segundo proyecto de vivienda asequible permanente (PSH en inglés) construido por  desarrolladores de la organización sin fines de lucro Mujeres Organizando Recursos, Conocimientos y Servicios (WORKS en inglés). Los socios de la organización junto a otros grupos se aseguran que las personas no sólo tengan un techo donde vivir, sino también obtengan los servicios necesarios para hacer la transición de desamparados a inquilinos.

“Estamos encantados de que esta vivienda de apoyo permanente está haciendo lo que en realidad fue designada para hacer, proveer hogar a personas que anteriormente no tenían un techo y otras con necesidades especiales, sobre todo en un barrio que ha visto el impacto sin precedentes de la gentrificación en todos los niveles socioeconómicos”, Channa Grace presidenta de WORKS dijo el lunes.

El concejal Cedillo visita uno de los apartamentos en Teague Terrace. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El concejal Cedillo visita uno de los apartamentos en Teague Terrace. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Para Kathryne Church y Ricky Shapley, el obtener las llaves de su apartamento en el cuarto piso del edificio ha sido “increíble”. La pareja dijo que vivió en su carro por más de un año antes de mudarse a Teague Terrace.

“Todavía no lo puedo creer que tengo un apartamento,” Church le dijo a EGP con una gran sonrisa mientras mostraba sus amenidades. “Estamos muy contentos de tener nuestro hogar”, añadió Shapley.

Cada uno de los apartamentos está amueblado con una cama, un sofá, un refrigerador y una estufa. Los inquilinos también recibieron algunas ollas y sartenes, artículos de higiene y otros servicios básicos que los indigentes en las calles no tienen.

“Es bien dicho que el verdadero trabajo comienza cuando alguien obtiene una casa”, dijo César López, un líder de equipo con Housing Works, una agencia de servicio social asociada con WORKS que proporciona servicios de apoyo y enriquecimiento.

Desde el momento que las personas se mudan a un hogar necesitan ayuda con todo, desde los muebles hasta la comida. Les enseñamos qué comprar y qué no comprar, dijo López.

La mayoría de los inquilinos reciben algún tipo de ayuda o beneficio del gobierno, tales como seguro social, seguros por discapacidad, vales de vivienda de Sección 8 u otro estipendio para ayudar a pagar el alquiler, dijo.

Como parte de la transición de indigentes a inquilinos, los trabajadores sociales les enseñan a las personas cómo manejar su dinero, pagar el alquiler y lo que tienen que hacer para mantener su vivienda.

“Pueden vivir en Teague Terrace durante el tiempo que quieran, siempre y cuando cumplan con su contrato de arrendamiento y estén al día con la actualización de su documentación cada año con la Autoridad de Vivienda”, explicó López.

Tanto la supervisora del Condado de Los Ángeles Hilda Solís y el concejal de la ciudad de Los Ángeles Gil Cedillo representan el noreste y ambos estuvieron presentes el lunes para la ceremonia oficial de inauguración del complejo habitacional.

Cedillo llama al proyecto de vivienda “elegante, bien construido y algo de lo que inquilinos se pueden sentir orgullosos”.

“Estoy emocionado de saber que las personas no sólo están recibiendo un techo sobre sus cabezas, sino también por la calidad del compromiso por parte de organizaciones no lucrativas y los servicios sociales para ayudar [a los residentes]”, aseveró.

“Realmente tenemos que llamar estado de emergencia a la falta de vivienda y dejar de actuar como si se tratara de un negocio”, agregó el concejal, quien en septiembre se unió al alcalde Eric Garcetti y seis compañeros miembros del consejo para anunciar el plan de la ciudad que dedicará $100 millones de dólares para reducir el número de indigentes en las calles de la ciudad.

Los apartamentos en Teague Terrace esta semi-amueblados incluyendo una estufa y refrigerador. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Los apartamentos en Teague Terrace esta semi-amueblados incluyendo una estufa y refrigerador. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

La población de indigentes en la ciudad y el condado de Los Ángeles ha aumentado 12% desde el 2013, según la Autoridad de Servicios para Desamparados de Los Ángeles (LAHSA).

“La falta de vivienda se ha convertido en una palabra muy importante en nuestro vocabulario”, dijo Solís a la multitud. “Pero queremos tener viviendas asequibles a disposición de todas las personas que lo necesiten en condado de Los Ángeles”.

Hay una necesidad de más de 500 mil unidades asequibles en el condado, incluyendo más de 80.000 para albergar a las personas sin hogar, dijo Solís.

Proyectos de vivienda de apoyo permanente como Teague Terrace están haciendo un pequeño pero importante aporte a ese número.

Sharon Lowe, funcionaria de proyectos especiales con Cedillo, le dijo a EGP que la oficina del concejal ayudó a WORKS a identificar las áreas tóxicas que necesitaban remediación y a asegurar la iluminación necesaria en la calle afuera del edificio.

Cumplir con las metas de tiempo es especialmente importante cuando se trata de construir una vivienda asequible, y si enfrentan problemas, podría “poner en peligro su financiación y los plazos para la construcción”, aseveró Lowe.

El edificio alberga a 39 personas que fueron indigentes incluyendo algunos veteranos, personas con discapacidades de desarrollo y personas que están siendo ayudados por el Departamento de Servicios de Salud (DHS). Los otros dieciséis residentes son personas mayores de bajos ingresos o pequeñas familias cuyos ingresos están por debajo del Ingreso Mediano de $1,300 por mes para una persona, dijo López.

Ortiz de 58 años de edad le dijo a EGP que está trabajando en recuperarse de su depresión para estar bien de nuevo.

“Estoy muy feliz, que hay mucha gente buena que me ayuda”, concluyó.

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Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Help Starts With A Home

November 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Juan Ortiz walked through the crowd Monday morning feeling emotional and grateful to be part of the ceremony opening of Teague Terrace, a new permanent supportive housing project.

Most of all, he was glad to have a place to call home.

Ortiz lives in one of 56 apartment units in the new housing complex in the border of Glassell Park and Eagle Rock, which actually opened its doors in August.

Lea este artículo en Español: Veteranos, Indigentes Y Personas de Bajos Recursos Encuentran Nuevo Hogar

Ortiz told EGP depression and other illnesses caused him to lose his home, bakery business and his family. He spent more than two years living on the streets of Long Beach, until a social worker helped him get back on his feet.

The approximately $18 million Teague Terrace is the second Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) community built by nonprofit developer Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge and Services (WORKS). The nonprofit partners with other groups to make sure people not only have a roof over their heads, but also receive the services they need to make the transition from homelessness to tenant.

 

Councilman Cedillo tours the new apartment of Ricky Shapley at Teague Terrace in Glassel Park. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Councilman Cedillo tours the new apartment of Ricky Shapley at Teague Terrace in Glassel Park. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

“We are delighted that this permanent supportive housing is now doing what it was developed to do, house formerly homeless persons and other special needs populations, especially in a neighborhood that has seen the unprecedented impact of gentrification on all income categories,” said WORKS President Channa Grace Monday.

For Kathryne Church and Ricky Shapley, getting the keys to their fourth floor apartment has been  “unbelievable.” The couple said they had been living in their car for over a year before moving into Teague Terrace.

“I still can’t believe I have an apartment,” Church told EGP with a big smile. “We are very happy to have our home,” added Shapley.

Each of the apartments is furnished with a bed, sofa, refrigerator and stove. Tenants also received some pots and pans, toiletries and other basic amenities that people living on the streets often go without.

“It’s well said that the real works starts when somebody gets a house,” said Cesar Lopez, a team leader with Housing Works, a social service agency partnering with WORKS to provide on-site supportive and enrichment services.

From the moment people move in they need help with everything, from furniture to groceries, he explained. We teach them what to buy and what not to buy, Lopez said.

Most tenants receive some type of government aid or benefit, such as social security, disability insurance, Section 8 Housing Voucher or other stipend to help pay for their rent, he said.

As part of the transition from homeless to housed, social workers teach the new tenants how to manage their money, pay their rent and what they need to do tp keep their housing.

“They can live at Teague Terrace for as long as they like, as long as they abide by their lease agreement and stay current with updating their paperwork yearly with the Housing Authority,” Lopez explained.

Both Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis and L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo represent Northeast LA and both were on hand Monday for the development’s official opening blessing and ceremony.

Cedillo called the housing project elegant, well-built and something tenants can have pride in.

“I’m so excited to know that people are not only getting a roof over their heads but also of the quality of the commitment from nonprofits and social services to help [residents],” he said.

“We really need to call homelessness a state of emergency and stop acting as if it is a business,” said Cedillo, who back in September joined Mayor Eric Garcetti and six fellow council members to announce the city’s plan to dedicate $100 million to help reduce the number of homeless on city streets.

The homeless population in LA city and county has risen 12% since 2013, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

“Homelessness has become a very important word in our vocabulary,” Sup. Solis told the crowd. “But we want to make affordable housing available for all people that need it in LA County.”

There’s a need for over 500 thousand affordable units in the county, including over 80 thousand needed to house the homeless, Solis said.

Permanent supportive housing projects like Teague Terrace are making a small but important dent in that number.

The facility houses 39 formerly homeless people including some veterans, people with developmental disabilities and people who are being helped by the Dept. of Health Services. The other sixteen residents are either low-income seniors or small families whose income is at or falls below he Area Median Income, which is $1,300 per month for a single individual, said Lopez.

Fifty-eight-year-old Ortiz told EGP he’s working on recovering from his depression and to be OK again.

“I’m very happy, there’s a lot of good people that help me.”

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Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Transient Found Dead Near Hermon Dog Park

November 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A white, approximately 62-year-old male was found dead Wednesday night near Hermon Dog Park in Northeast Los Angeles, authorities said.

The man, a known transient in the area who went by the nickname “Mr. White,” was found dead around 8pm by a caretaker, said Officer Austin Fernald with the Los Angeles Police Department Hollenbeck Division. The caretaker called police, who responded to the 6500 block of Monterey Road in Hermon.

Apparently he died of natural causes, but the investigation is ongoing, Fernald told EGP.

The incident does not appear to be connected to the killing of two women whose bodies were found at Debs Park on Oct. 28, said Fernald.

Vets Deserve More Than Accolades on Veterans Day, Especially If They’re Homeless

November 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The County and City of Los Angeles have begun to pay more attention to the many needy veterans living in our communities.

Tragically, many of this country’s veterans are homeless and suffer from PTSD, but find it hard to get the help they need, whether it’s housing, medical attention or mental health services.

The pledge by local officials to provide millions of dollars to fund the creation of temporary and permanent supportive housing for homeless vets is long overdue.

It’s easy to honor and admire veterans who have returned home as heroes and have managed to recover from their war experience and adjust to civilian life.

It’s not as easy to pick up and help those who have returned with broken minds, bodies and spirits.

But as a country, we have an obligation to help those who serve in our military branches and put their lives on the line to protect us from our enemies abroad and the threat of terrorism here at home.

The situation for our Vets, whether they served in wars of long ago or recently, continues to deteriorate at an astounding and shameful pace. It seems to us that before we can truly begin to help, we have to answer some very crucial questions about how we got to this point.

How is it that we allowed our military personnel to separate from the various branches of the Armed Forces without knowing if they are in need of counseling, or whether they have a home, job,  and more importantly, a family to return to?

Unless we take the time to answer that question, we will continue down the same path. It’s a path which leads too many returning vets to commit suicide, become homeless and stay unemployed.

So on November 11, when we observe Veterans Day, take a moment to reflect on what you can do to make a difference in the life of a veteran, give thanks for their service and give them the respect they deserve.

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