Los Angeles City Council votes to turn old LA Children's Museum into Skid Row homeless housing

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday on a plan to turn the former LA Children's Museum at the Los Angeles Civic Center Mall into temporary housing for the homeless.

The 14,000-square-foot facility can house 120 beds for homeless people from Skid Row, according to city officials.

The building, situated across from city hall, is the first to be transformed into temporary shelter for the area's rapidly growing homeless population.

Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar has said Skid Row hosts the "largest homeless encampment in the nation," with city estimates putting the number of people without shelter at more than 2,000.

"While this is a step forward, there is a sea of despair and humanity in Skid Row. It is untenable. It is the very definition of an emergency, and we need treat it as such," said Huizar, who introduced a motion calling for a "triage-like response" to the city's homeless crisis.

Huizar had previously proposed putting trailers on city-owned properties as temporary shelters for those sleeping on the streets.

In May, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an executive order aimed at fast-tracking the construction of temporary homeless shelters throughout the city.

Executive Directive 24 allows temporary shelter projects that meet legal and environmental standards to open their doors in as little as six months.

Los Angeles, which officially declared a shelter crisis on April 17, is the first city in California to take advantage of a new state law allowing local governments to build shelters on any land owned or leased by the city.

The law also permits local governments to adopt alternative public health and safety standards in order to more quickly stand up shelters.

The plan to expedite the construction of homeless housing in L.A. has been met with resistance by critics of the effort.

Hundreds of people rallied in Los Angeles in June to protest a proposed homeless shelter in Koreatown, citing concerns about safety and the creation of a draw that would bring more homeless people to the neighborhood.

L.A. saw a 20 percent spike in the number of homeless in 2017, to more than 34,000 people.
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