1 of 15 temporary homeless shelters opens in downtown Los Angeles

Tuesday, September 11, 2018
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DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- New arrivals of people came through a gate and moved in to what the city of Los Angeles plans as its first of 15 temporary homeless shelters in a step to address the homeless crisis.

"This is the blessing God gave me," Robert Venegas said.

Before that moment, Venegas was among an estimated 23,000 homeless people living in L.A. He didn't even have a tent.

"I'd get on the street with a cardboard box on the floor, with blankets and a pillow," he said.

In the temporary shelter, he gets a bed, shower, air conditioning and most valuable of all - help to find an apartment.

L.A. County voters approved a $1.2 billion bond measure to build permanent housing for the homeless two years ago. But with squalid camps popping up everywhere, pressure pushed the city to find an interim solution.

The $2.4 million operation in the historic Pueblo district is called A Bridge Home. Among the amenities featured at the location, there is a fence and 24-7 security which is a level of protection the residents have never had before.

"I had an associate whose tent was set on fire," one man said.

The man, who did not want to be identified said living on the streets can make you an easy target for drug-fueled violence and thieves.

"You worry about, 'Are they going to come in and try to rob me and I don't have nothing?'" he said.

He's applied to A Bridge Home, but there is a waiting list among the 44 residents getting help there. The goal of the program is to find a real home for them within six months and make room for other people.

Until then, the new tenants look forward to their first night of having a bed, a roof over their head and newfound hope.

"I'm very happy. I've got joy in my heart. I'm good," Venegas said.