Temporary homeless shelters in San Pedro, Wilmington, set to open July 6 – Daily News

on Jun20
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Two years after the proposals were first submitted, two temporary homeless shelters designed to draw residents from area encampments in San Pedro and Wilmington will open July 6-7 — and they already have waiting lists.

“People have been pretty receptive,” said Shari Weaver of Harbor Interfaith Services overseeing signups. “For the San Pedro site we’ve got 175 on the list for 100 beds and we’re still adding names. In Wilmington, we have 250 (signed up) for those 100 beds.”

It wasn’t supposed to take this long.

When Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti rolled out his Bridge Home program, the temporary shelters were supposed to go up quickly throughout the city.

But it all got bogged down in bureaucracy and higher-than-expected costs.

Going forward, plans are now in the works to produce more temporary housing citywide.

“We’re going to start looking at models that are four-times cheaper, such as pallet and modular homes,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino,who represents the harbor area.

An urgency now exists, he said, for “embracing quick solutions.”

The city and county are now partnering to provide beds for nearly 6,000 people.

Among those living on San Pedro’s streets and eager to be housed at the new Bridge Home facility is Johnny, a nickname, who is 42 and has been homeless for about five years.

“I want to get my own place and move on,” he said in a telephone conversation. “I want to work and to be clean and civilized.”

Before becoming homeless he worked as a chef and volunteered at Curt’s Kitchen, a storefront that provided meals to the homeless and needy in San Pedro.

He’s hoping to go back to school and says he most looks forward to “fresh sheets, showers and being civilized” when he can move into the San Pedro Bridge Home shelter.

The membrane structures — at 515 N. Beacon St. in San Pedro and 828 Eubank Ave. in Wilmington — are designed to match residents with case workers who will assist them in recovery issues, medical care, job searches and finding more permanent housing.

The idea is that people will stay at the temporary shelters for up to 90 days — or whenever they are able to move on — then others will be brought in to take their place.

Weaver, who is well acquainted with many of the local homeless, said establishing relationships, a lengthy interpersonal process, is key to gaining trust and buy-in.

“A lot of these people have really bad health issues, and some are hesitant or shy to talk about issues like substance abuse or drug addiction,” she said, adding some of that is from feelings of guilt or shame.

Once they’re in the shelters, she said, efforts begin to move people in the right direction.

“We’ve been mindful about meeting people where they’re at,” Weaver said. I tell them, ‘I’m here, my door is open. Let’s talk.’”

The shelters cannot force people to stay, however, and it remains unclear how many may choose to leave.

But Weaver said the newer shelters are winning over many. Winter and other shelters have traditionally let people sleep or stay over only during the night. When it’s daylight, they must leave and come back later in hopes there will be a bed.

Weaver said word-of-mouth from current shelter residents in the new county facility on Beacon and Eighth streets, which also just opened this year, is helping generate interest. It remains filled to capacity with 40 residents.

While most came from the streets around the Post Office, the area has repopulated and now the city estimates there are 50-70 people living along the sidewalks overlooking the Port of Los Angeles.

The targeted Bridge Home populations, she said, are those in the existing encampments in both Wilmington and San Pedro.

She’s hopeful a corner is finally being turned on better addressing the issue.

“It feels different,” she said of the current push to construct and build more housing. “It feels hopeful.”

Earlier this month, the county released the results of the 2020 homeless count indicating that homelessness rose 14.2% in the city and 12.7% in the county.

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