As rain approaches, more LA homeless shelters opening - but is it enough?

Anabel Munoz Image
Wednesday, November 27, 2019
As rain approaches, more LA homeless shelters opening
With a major storm approaching, Los Angeles is opening seven winter shelters for the homeless early, but some officials say more are needed.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Depending on who you ask, the rain expected in Southern California may be welcomed or alarming.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) announced Tuesday it will open seven emergency winter shelters early.

LAHSA executive director Peter Lynn said seven sites will open before Dec. 1 including one site with 30 beds which opens Wednesday.

Local leaders are pushing county and city agencies to do more.

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an emergency motion urging LAHSA and other agencies to open emergency shelters in city facilities.

"Just like we do with fires, just like we do with an earthquake, let's open up very quickly within a matter of hours some of our emergency evacuation centers we use in those conditions," said Councilman Mike Bonin, who introduced the motion.

Lynn said he understands the frustration, and explained the winter shelters open Dec. 1 every year but they are trying to open as many as possible before that date due to inclement weather.

"Some of the reasons that they can't open early might be site constraints," Lynn said. "Sometimes they're waiting for inspections, and sometimes they need to staff up for that," he added.

The agency will open emergency sites offering 500 beds between Tuesday and Friday, and city and county leaders are looking for more sites. Bonin stressed that not acting quickly enough could impact an already alarming death rate among people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County - an average of three a day.

LAHSA's 16 winter shelter locations should be open by Dec. 1, while some could be slightly delayed, according to Lynn.