LA mayor's race: Hotel shelter program spotlights how Kevin de León would combat homelessness

EL SERENO, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León believes he's the best candidate for mayor to tackle homelessness because he's already in the thick of it.

De León's district has more homeless people than any other council district. Eyewitness News met the mayoral candidate at a former roadside motel in El Sereno, which is now a temporary shelter De León purchased. As part of Project Homekey, three meals a day are provided there and so are supportive services like job development skills, legal services and mental health.

"Perhaps in the near future, we will convert these temporary units into permanent housing," De León said. "You cannot let the 'perfect' get in the way of the good. Because if you do, you'll just be paralyzed. And then you won't act, you'll just talk about the issues. You'll theorize about the issue."

The temporary shelter is called Huntington Villas ,which is run by the provider, Union Station. The 43 residents who live there came from an encampment that was located across the street - on an island in the middle of Huntington Drive.

"In March of 2021, just last year, we moved the whole mile-long encampment into these interim housing units, this hotel. The vast majority of the residents in this hotel are actually from this neighborhood. They went to Wilson High School, El Sereno Middle School, Cesar Chavez Elementary School," De León said. "They're from this neighborhood. We're not importing anyone from anywhere else... We do have an obligation. We need to take care of them."

Video: Kevin De León offers help to homeless woman seen rummaging in trash near press conference
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Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de Leon announced a plan Tuesday aimed at reducing illegal dumping throughout the city, including by shortening the time it takes to deploy cleanup teams after a report is made about excess trash and debris.



Kevin de León's proposal of 25,000 units by the year 2025 was approved unanimously by the City Council. De León would scale up emergency housing, which includes permanent housing and creative solutions like tiny home shelters. He'd require departments to respond to developers within 15 days of receiving plans to speed up the process and identify more land to build on.

Keith Reynolds, who will be 70 in August, showed us his hotel room, which feels more like a home with a refrigerator, furniture and personal items.

"This place is extraordinarily well run. I think the staff is exceptional. Some places you walk around feeling, 'Oh, I'm homeless' because that's the feeling you get. I've never felt I was talked to in such a way or mistreated," Reynolds said about the where he's staying now.

Reynolds became homeless after he was evicted. Reynolds says the best approach to helping the homeless is a softer touch, taking someone by the hand and guiding them instead of forcing them into help.

"When you identify someone that's homeless, all of the sudden all this bad stuff happens," Reynolds said, adding that many are quick to assume homeless people have mental health issues, use drugs or are irresponsible.

"What do they look like?" Reynolds asks, referring to homeless people. "They look like everybody."

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