LA Residents Fight Plan to Use Parking Lots as Homeless Camps

LOS ANGELES (CN) – Neighbors of a proposed emergency homeless shelter shouted and booed speakers in favor of the project at Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday, citing safety concerns and an overall lack of communication by city officials.

Amid a homeless and housing crisis in LA, city officials have proposed housing people and supplying services at city-owned parking lots.

According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, an estimated 25,000 people are homeless throughout Los Angeles County. This has city officials eyeing at least two dozen emergency shelter sites throughout the city as part of its response to a shortage in affordable housing.

Over the next decade, the city plans to build 10,000 affordable housing units paid for by a voter-approved bond that is expected to raise $1.2 billion.

But approval and construction of housing will take time, so city officials have offered temporary solutions in the meantime.

The first proposed site of an emergency shelter is a lot on Vermont Avenue in Koreatown. The Homeless and Poverty Committee approved the site Tuesday, despite a packed room of frustrated residents who said the city did not follow due process when the site was chosen.

Residents of LA’s Koreatown neighborhood are split on the city’s plan to turn parking lots into homeless camps. (Nathan Solis/CNS)

Residents waved papers that said “Solutions, Not Tents!” and booed those who commented in support of the project. The emergency shelter will likely be a mix of tents, trailers and other types of shelter and will be staffed by case workers and law enforcement.

Local attorney Jake Jeong said the Koreatown residents are not opposed to helping the homeless but want due process. Many at the meeting said they were concerned the shelter would attract more homeless people to the neighborhood.

“We’re not hearing from the city on how this will get done, only that it is going to be done,” Jeong said outside the meeting on Tuesday. He was surrounded by hundreds of Koreatown residents opposed to the project.

Inbo Sim, a representative from the nonprofit Korean Resource Center, said it was sad to see people against shelters for people in the neighborhood.

“We need to come together and show that we’re able to help those in need, but also work together,” said Sim.

Some residents of LA’s Koreatown neighborhood believe housing homeless people temporarily in city-owned parking lots is the right thing to do. (Nathan Solis/CNS)

City officials had a difficult time controlling the crowd as tempers flared and audience members booed proposal supporters. Korean translators helped non-English speakers during the public comment period and people in the audience shouted at city officials to stop the timer to accommodate the translation.

Police removed at least one person who shouted from the back of the room, “You’re trying to silence 150 people by only allowing us to speak for 15 minutes.”

Resident Keshy Jeong, a student, said the opposition to the project paints the Korean community in a bad light, as it shows their bias against poor and homeless people.

Councilmember Herb Wesson, whose district includes Koreatown, proposed the Vermont Avenue site.

He does not sit on the Homeless and Poverty Committee so he was not present for Tuesday’s meeting, but in a letter of support for the project he said there are approximately 400 homeless people in Koreatown on any given night.


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