By T.A. Hendrickson
A motion by CD 14 City Councilmember Kevin de León to build small, prefabricated shelter units for the homeless in Eagle Rock and Highland Park was unanimously approved on Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council.
In Eagle Rock, the units — known as “pallet housing” — are slated for the parking lot on N. Figueroa St. across from the Eagle Rock Recreation Center near the 134 Freeway ramps. In Highland Park, the pallet housing is slated for an unused section of Arroyo Dr. near S. Avenue 64 and the 110 Freeway. The shelters, generally 8’ by 8’ or 10’ by 10’, are intended as “bridge” housing for people as they transition to permanent housing.
Pete Brown, a spokesperson for De León, told the Boulevard Sentinel that the aim is to house up to 134 homeless people at the Eagle Rock site and up to 224 at the Highland Park site. “Between the two, we believe we can house most of the individuals currently experiencing homelessness in our portion of NELA,” said Brown in an email reply to questions from the Sentinel.
According to the city’s latest homeless count by community/city, there were 117 unsheltered homeless people in Eagle Rock as of January 2020 and 245 in Highland Park.
At last count by the Boulevard Sentinel in mid February, there were some 13 tents in the parking lot on N. Figueroa.
Brown also noted that the goal for starting construction on the pallet shelters would be April or early May, thereby allowing occupancy of the units to begin at the end of the summer.
There are hoops to jump through along the way. The city has to get approval from the Board of Recreation and Parks (RAP) Commissioners to use the parking lot in Eagle Rock for pallet housing. Technically, the RAP Board could say “no,” though the City Council has veto power over the Board’s decisions.
Similarly, the city must also reach agreement with SoCal Edison regarding use of a portion of the lot.
“We are working closely with RAP and SoCal Edison to find creative, cost effective solutions to bring our unhoused constituents inside,” wrote Brown.
From Feb. 25, when the motion cleared a key committee in the City Council, to Mar. 16, 64 public comments were filed on the motion.
Of the total, 28 were clearly in favor of the motion and 32 were clearly against. Four letters raised issues and questions without taking a clear stance for or against.
The supporters of the motion cited moral and humane imperatives to help house the homeless and said that pallet housing would be a vital first step toward addressing other complex problems related to homelessness, such as addiction, mental illness, joblessness and the lack of affordable housing. The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council both submitted statements in favor of the motion.
Those opposed expressed concern that current problems with homelessness on N. Figueroa — including safety, sanitation, public intoxication, drug use and untreated mental illness — would get worse as more homeless people move onto the lot. They called on De León and the city to fully explore other options for housing the homeless, such as motel rooms, before committing to pallet housing. They objected to the location of the pallet community in Eagle Rock so close to a public park. They also objected to the locations in both Eagle Rock and Highland Park on the ground that they are too close to freeways to be suitable for building for human habitation.
The Sentinel asked De León to comment on the appropriateness of housing homeless people next to freeways. He reiterated concerns he has raised many times about the health impacts on all residents in CD 14 due to pollution from the many freeways throughout the district, adding, “The reality is, there is finite space to provide housing for people.” He noted that the proposed pallet communities would offer hundreds of people experiencing homelessness safe housing, with HVAC systems, that take them off the streets of Eagle Rock and Highland Park.
Many questions raised in the public comment letters remain unanswered. How will potential residents for the pallet communities be screened? Will mental health services and drug rehab treatment be available? What are the plans for sanitation and site security?
Brown said that these and other questions will be answered when a service provider is selected to operate the site. No such provider has yet been selected, but Brown said the choice will be a provider with a good track record and qualified, professional staff.
Brown also said that the pallet communities in NELA would operate for an estimated three to five years as the service providers work to place the residents into suitable permanent housing. He could not say how long any one resident might remain in a pallet shelter, because the length of a stay depends on the needs of the person and the availability of permanent housing. “Our office will remain involved throughout to assist where needed and ensure progress,” he wrote.
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T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times.
25 thoughts on “City Council approves motion to build prefab shelters for the homeless in NELA”
Isn’t it Marmion Way, and not Arroyo Drive.
Hi Chris, the motion identifies the lot as an unused portion of Arroyo Drive adjacent to assessor parcel 5492021900. You can look up the location of that parcel here: https://maps.assessor.lacounty.gov/m/
Thanks for your interest and thanks for reading the Boulevard Sentinel.
Very sad that they didn’t check with any of the homeowners or residents nor consider that the majority of residents of these communities are against these houses especially at the price tag of $130k EACH for an 8×8 shed (can’t say there isn’t corruption going on there with a no compete contract being granted). Crime and drug use is already up significantly. This will only worsen it for the families living close to this location.
De Leon and rest of LA City Council should be ashamed of themselves. If the taxpayer voice no longer matters, maybe people should just stop paying taxes. Are they going to add more police to our neighborhood, ensure help and services are actually provided to the homeless, ensure tents no longer line our streets, or subsidize our property value loss?? This is so unbelievable.
This is de Leon’s chance to make a name for himself as he prepares to announce his candidacy for mayor. He’ll claim the neighborhood council’s strong endorsement of the project as the community’s stamp of approval, since they’re our elected representatives. He doesn’t know or care anything about Eagle Rock as he aims for higher office.
We are planning a zoom call for next week for concerned community members. None of my neighbors were even aware of this and are strongly opposed as we live within walking distance of this site. We all feel this was rushed to get it in under our noses and without our chance to express our opinion. If you are interested, let me know. I will also post zoom link here once it is scheduled.
Please keep me informed of the meeting. We have to keep this in the forefront during the next election to vote out all incumbents on the city council
You might also consider posting the link on the Eagle Rock Crime Watch and Eagle Rock Neighborhood Group Facebook pages (you’d have to be a member of each in order to post), as well as Eagle Rock’s several Nextdoor pages.
Over the last year, our Council office could have rented out every room at the Welcome Inn, the Comfort Inn, and the Best Western, through Project Room Key, which would have provided over 70 rooms to the homeless. It was mentioned at one of the ERNC meetings, that only 2 women took rooms over the last year.
Before we build any new housing for the homeless, we should explore using these motels to at least start the transition for these people. These rooms already have HVAC systems and showers. We can get the County to provide medical and psychiatric services at these locations. I am sure homeless outreach and 24 hour security can be relocated to them as well. And, we could get our struggling restaurants to provide meals for them.
This could be implemented in a matter of days or weeks, while pallet housing will take months to just start construction.
This would serve as a litmus test for our homeless population because at this point we need to know if these people are on the streets because they can not find housing or are they people that want to be off the grid. If at least one motel can be filled and the program seems to be working, then we should consider building pallet housing as part of our plan to end homelessness in our community. If the rooms can not be filled and the motels are underutilized then we need to reassess our outreach programs before we consider building pallet housing. We should be utilizing the resources we have before we build something that might not work.
That will never happen, Ken. It makes way too much sense and might actually help. How would these corrupt politicians and contractors make any money? There’s no profit in actually solving the problem.
Can you please link us to where the rooms are available? Genuinely interested in understanding why they weren’t used and why this new solution in our community if these weren’t used with all the resources already provided. Thanks.
Rooms via Project Homekey, that is. Thanks
Here’s a recent article about Project Roomkey.
LA Times article about Project Room Key
Doesn’t Eagle Rock already have a halfway house on Colorado Blvd next to the taco bell. Eagle Rock s is in the crosshairs of big developers and politicians trying to totally transform this part of town without regard for the existing residents and cramming as much people in as they can to every nook and cranny of this neighborhood.
Will these pre-fab units have water or bathroom facilities? If not, I’m assuming the ‘residents’ will be utilizing the Eagle Rock Recreation Center and Arroyo Seco Park for their daily hygiene requirements.
The one in North Hollywood on Chandler Blvd. does have bathroom facilities and other amenities, according to what I’ve read about it.
Yes, please post the zoom link. We are in walking distance. I will forward it to our neighbors.
Post and discuss this important issue at the ONLY Eagle Rock Facebook group (EAGLE ROCK TOWN HALL) that does not censor or silence the ER community: http://www.facebook.com/groups/EagleRockTownHall
You homeowner should be helping instead of degrading our community. Get out there and help these homeless people get back on their feet…it’s disgusting to read your comments about how your house value is down due to the homeless crisises we have here…if that’s all you’re worried about your a disgrace to human race, your selfish and evil. You should be the one that’s homeless on the streets…we need to come together and figure out what we can do to get these homeless people back on their feet. Get them back out there looking for jobs or get them back into school or some kind of trade school…this is what we should be doing instead of bad mouthing them or our councilmen or whoever…let’s come together, let’s come together and show them they don’t need to be homeless there’s hope out here and we’re here to help….
Victoria stop with the guilt trip, most of these people are deeply hooked on meth and heroin, are in gangs which you can clearly see their neighborhood affiliations if you read the graffiti or gang tattoos, and are of working age and are not physically disabled. These camps have become mini drug/ weapon stores, hiding places and bicycle chop shops.
To be honest a good percentage of highland park homeless is because they want to be homeless.and are feeding their own drugs and alcohol I’ve seen it first hand and you have city walk supporting them .and community supporting them as well .for instance their is this old man that lives in a tent at Entrance of ave 64 fwy dawn and the lady nick name: is CeCe well she is getting donations food and money. And selling drugs their and its sad city walk is behind her 100% while she is selling drugs and feeding that old man drugs and make him ask for money at the fwy they both have tents their i brought it to their attention but still are supporting her what a shame that old man is gonna die because they are blinded by this lady CeCe who is a con artist sorry i don’t know who to go to next .
Replying to Michelle: Can you please get someone to proofread your comments? It’s not the content, it’s the writing style that is off-putting.
Isn’t this location in violation of Judge Carter’s decision regarding removing the homeless from within 500 feet of a freeway or on/off ramps? How can DeLeon completely disregard this order, especially when the majority of residents oppose the location, not to mention the absurd price tag ?
Stupid city should of never cut down the little forest that was there and put a stupid lot , it was way better as a green space where deer and wildlife use to be instead of the blight it is now.
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