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Interim Homeless Housing Draws Pushback by Westside Residents

The housing would be located on Pico Boulevard in Westwood, where there’s currently a city-owned parking lot.
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August 14, 2023
A homeless encampment sits on a street in Downtown Los Angeles. MattGush/Getty Images

A proposal for an interim housing project for the homeless on Pico Boulevard has drawn pushback from residents of the surrounding area.

During an Aug. 3 informational session about the project held at Temple Isaiah, attendees jeered as City Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky, whose fifth council district includes the area where the project would be located, discussed plans for the housing. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass also spoke at the contentious meeting, threatening to end it early as at least one attendee called for Yaroslavsky to be recalled from her position.

“Disgraceful,” called out one attendee at the meeting.

The housing would be located at Pico Blvd. and Midvale Ave., at 2377 Midvale Ave. in Westwood, where there’s currently a city-owned parking lot. City officials have identified the lot as underutilized and thus a suitable site for the homeless housing project, which would feature 30 beds and be operated by homeless services agency LA Family Housing. L.A.-based company LifeArk, which specializes in prefabricated, self-sustainable modular structures that can be built relatively quickly, will construct the project.

Those in attendance at the Temple Isaiah informational session included Barbara Broide, president of the Westwood South of Santa Monica Blvd. Homeowners Association. Broide is opposed to interim housing being built at the Midvale site. In an interview with the Journal, she said the community was not given the opportunity to have input about where the housing would be located, and she believes there are more appropriate locations for the project.

“We’re not naysayers and we’re not NIMBYs [Not in My Backyard], but we think it’s the wrong place,” she said. “Just because Katie [Yaroslavsky] doesn’t have another site in CD-5 [council district-five] right now, doesn’t make this one right.”

“Just because Katie [Yaroslavsky] doesn’t have another site in CD-5 [council district-five] right now, doesn’t make this one right.” — Barbara Broide, president of the Westwood South of Santa Monica Blvd. Homeowners Association.

As the homelessness crisis has worsened in her district and across Los Angeles, Yaroslavsky said the project was necessary to provide an interim solution for the unhoused. The goal of the project, she said, is to act as a link between street homelessness and permanent housing.

“Anyone who has walked or driven on the Westside can tell you that the increase in the number of people living in tents is alarming,” Yaroslavsky said in a statement. “We cannot keep waiting for the problem to solve itself—we need real solutions that we know work, and we need them quickly. While thousands of units of permanent housing are being constructed across the City, no interim units are in the pipeline in Council District 5. We need interim solutions now that we know will work.”

Along with the meeting at Temple Isaiah, the councilmember participated in an Aug. 6 Zoom session about the project, during which she addressed the perception that the city made decisions about the project without having an open dialogue with the wider community.

“We didn’t want to come to all of you with half-baked ideas that were filled with a bunch of holes,” Yaroslavsky said. “We generally expect this project to be a net positive for the community.”

While housing developments ordinarily require approval from various commissions and the city council, the fact that this project will be developed on a city-owned lot allows for it to be expedited. City Council, nevertheless, will have to approve contracts with the construction company and the operator of the interim housing project.

“We expect council to take action on these items within the next couple of months,” Yaroslavsky said.

The expectation is that LifeArk will be able to construct the housing quickly. According to Yaroslavsky’s office, the project is expected to break ground before the end of this year and open by 2024.

According to Yaroslavsky’s spokesperson, Leo Daube, people will have more opportunities to weigh in on the project in the coming weeks.

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