By Sue Favor
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — A transitional space that will provide shelter and support services for the homeless opened April 30, the first such temporary housing complex in the area under the state program Project Homekey.
City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson and U.S. Rep. Karen Bass were on hand at the former EC Motel, at 35th Street and Western Avenue, to mark the opening.
The facility will house 31 residents at a time and provide a variety of services designed to assist them in transitioning to permanent housing and employment. It is a significant step in an area that has seen skyrocketing rates of homelessness over the last three years, and which has been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“No one deserves to be homeless, and it is especially heartbreaking to see the number of unhoused people growing during this pandemic,” Harris-Dawson said.
The state Department of Housing and Community Development allocated $600 million to cities and counties throughout California to purchase and rehabilitate housing, including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other buildings, and convert them into interim or permanent housing.
The EC Motel was shut down two years ago after becoming a hub for prostitution and drug activity. The city purchased it last year and rehabilitated it for Project Homekey, with a goal of providing housing for the homeless. Harris-Dawson said having other facilities in South L.A. is important, as many Black Angelenos have lost housing at higher rates.
“The EC Motel used to be a community nuisance in the district and has now been transformed into a community asset that provides homeless housing for our neighbors in need,” Harris-Dawson said.
The facility will be run by the Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System (HOPICS), which will provide support services including case management, employment training, educational assistance, nursing assistance, mental health services and security. Harris-Dawson’s office chose the organization because of its holistic approach and goal of helping residents make changes in their lives.
Under Project Homekey, temporary housing shelters will be converted into permanent housing within five years.
With the EC Motel as a springboard, city officials will continue to purchase and rehabilitate other properties for housing. The most recent count of the homeless, which dates back to January 2020, reported more than 66,000 people living on the streets of Los Angeles County and more than 41,000 within the city of Los Angeles.
“(We) will continue using every resource possible to combat homelessness,” Harris-Dawson said.
Sue Favor is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers, who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at email@example.com.