New housing development in West LA opens for seniors struggling with homelessness

Josh Haskell Image
Thursday, February 16, 2023
New housing development for homeless seniors opens in West LA
The city of L.A. and the Weingart Center opened a new permanent supportive housing building in West L.A. It's specifically for seniors, a growing segment of the state's homeless population.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A growing number of California's elderly population are becoming homeless.

According to state data, homelessness increased 91% among those 65 and up between 2018 and 2021, the most of any age group. In Los Angeles' homeless population, those 65 and up saw a 59% increase.

"When you're on the streets, you don't have health care. It is cold right now," Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said. "And you could imagine that our seniors would be some of the most vulnerable to lose their lives in these tents on the streets."

Seniors are more likely to live on a fixed income with limited savings. As rents have soared in California, some of the state's elderly population have been priced out of their communities and ended up on the street.

That's why the city of Los Angeles and the Weingart Center opened a new permanent supportive housing building Wednesday on Santa Monica Boulevard in West L.A., specifically for seniors.

Twenty-five of the 50 units in the building will house veterans. West L.A. has a large homeless veteran population with the Westwood VA less than a mile from the apartment building.

"I'm very excited for this type of building. It's amazing. It's beyond my wildest dreams," said Roy Ward, who is 60 years old and is about to move into the new apartment building.

Ward ended up on the street because of his addiction to drugs. Now clean and in temporary housing, Ward says he can't believe the new building with a computer room, gym and amazing views of the city will be his home.

"I've always wanted to have a good life. I never wanted to deal with addiction," Ward said.

Bass applauded the community that surrounds the apartment building for realizing the only way to solve homelessness is to build housing in every neighborhood.

"They recognize that in order for us to deal with 40,000 people on the street, we all need to say we need you to come to our neighborhood and we'll make sure you get housed," Bass said.

Grace Manthey contributed to this report.