Boyle Heights residents protest plan to turn Sears tower into homeless center

Amy Powell Image
Thursday, September 29, 2022
Plan to build homeless-services center in Boyle Heights draws protest
Plans to convert the Sears tower in Boyle Heights into a complex that would house and assist more than 5,000 homeless people are drawing protests from local residents.

BOYLE HEIGHTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Some residents of Boyle Heights are up in arms about a plan to convert the historic Sears tower into a service center for the homeless.

The plan would turn the building and 26-acre campus into a "life rebuilding center" that would house and provide services for more than 5,000 people. The Sears location closed last year after more than 90 years in business.

But dozens of local residents showed up for a protest this week, saying the project would create an unsafe situation for the community. Local leaders, they say, are ignoring the community's needs.

"We are the first neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles. We're the first and we're the absolute last when it comes to service or representation," said Boyle Heights resident Renee Chavez. "All we typically get is what nobody else wants. We don't want this."

Building owner Izek Shomoff says he wants to turn the property into a facility that could help the homeless get their lives back on track, providing housing as well as medical and mental health support and job training.

"What we are proposing to do here is to bring people whose life is broken and rebuild them," Shomoff said.

Opponents say the project would bring in too many people and would not be good for the community. They say there are already problems with the homeless in the area.

"It's just a sad situation and it's dangerous," said Boyle Heights resident Martha Diaz. "A lot of them have assaulted women, especially seniors early in the morning when they're taking transportation to get to the daycare or anything like that. It's just not safe."