Los Angeles considering using Convention Center as homeless shelter

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday ordered an evaluation on the potential use of the L.A. Convention Center as a temporary emergency homeless shelter.

The council, on a unanimous vote, instructed the city administrative officer and chief legislative analyst, with assistance from several departments including the Convention and Tourism Department and Bureau of Engineering, to conduct the assessment and report back within 30 days.

The motion was introduced by Councilmen Curren Price and Kevin De Leon on Nov. 10.

RELATED: National Guard transforms Los Angeles Convention Center into field hospital
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A transformation is underway inside the Los Angeles Convention Center as members of the National Guard set up dozens of beds, preparing the center for use as a federal field hospital in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Sheltering our population experiencing homelessness is an urgent priority for the city. The 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, published by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority on July 20, 2020, reported that 41,290 individuals were experiencing homelessness in the city, an increase of 16.1 percent over 2019," the motion reads. "Of this group, 28,852 individuals are unsheltered."

The convention center, located at 1201 S. Figueroa St. in downtown Los Angeles, is owned by the city and managed by the Convention and Tourism Department.

While during a normal year the center hosts convention and trade shows, all events were postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The councilmen said in the motion that it should be used as a city asset while regular operations are suspended.

RELATED: Empty LA Convention Center could be used to house homeless, council members suggest
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Some city council members propose that large facilities which sit empty because of the pandemic, like the Los Angeles Convention Center, be used as temporary homeless shelters.

In April, the center was used as a temporary medical facility to assist hospitals in the event that their capacity was exhausted from a surge in COVID-19 cases. It wasn't utilized for medical patients, but was temporarily outfitted with 250 hospital beds.

The report will include an estimate of the number of beds that can reasonably fit into the building, as well as potential services, funding requirements and revenue impacts the project would have.
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