New homeless shelter in Van Nuys hopes to help local homeless population

The Bridge Shelter on Aetna Street opened in August to provide more resources for those who are homeless.
VAN NUYS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Bridge Shelter on Aetna Street opened in August to provide more resources for those who are homeless. The shelter is located on Aetna Street, which is known for its large population of homeless encampments.

"This facility comes to me in a time when I needed it ... basically, it gave me salvation. Because I was struggling to save money and work, and I was staying in hotels back to back to back," said Emiliano Garcia, a resident at the shelter.

Just like Emiliano, many who have struggled with homelessness have trouble getting back on their feet, according to officials with The Bridge Shelter. And finding a shelter they trust may be even more difficult.

"Their concern is like, 'Do I really have to stay there all the time.' So there's a lot of assumptions. You know, we had a client say, 'I think you guys let everyone leave at six in the morning,' and that was not the case. So clarifying a lot of the stories that they're hearing," said Loyda Peraza, program manager at The Bridge Shelter.

This is why Loyda said that it took a little longer than expected to fill the shelter.

The facility has a total of 70 beds, 50 beds for males, which are full, and 20 beds for females that still have openings.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, for every 10,000 people in the State of California 52.5 men and 19.9 women experience homelessness.

This hits close to home for Loyda.

"Into my second marriage, we both experienced homelessness for like four to six weeks," said Loyda Peraza. "I was about seven months pregnant, and to go through that the feeling, the rejection from people even though you don't know them, like having to go to McDonald's to use the restroom or to sit down because it's hot."

That's part of Loyda's mission with The Bridge Shelter on Aetna Street, to let people know that they have access to a helping hand.

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