The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to turn a vacant Metro bus depot in Venice into a temporary homeless shelter, over the objections of some local residents and community leaders.
The site is one of dozens that have been proposed for Mayor Eric Garcetti's "Bridge Home" program, which aims to install temporary shelters in each City Council district.
Although most of the sites are under consideration without controversy, the Venice location is one of several in the city that has seen significant opposition.
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Dozens of people on both sides lined up to speak to the council, with some critics arguing it was too close to homes, schools and businesses.
"The location is terrible. It's surrounded by residents. It's going to endanger residents' lives," said Venice resident Travis Bennett. "It's right by the beach, which is where a lot of the transients are drinking and doing drugs."
Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the Venice area, defended the development of the Metro site before the vote.
"This is not a question of whether we say yes or no. This is a question over what we say yes to, whether we say yes to housing and shelter and beds or whether we say yes to a continued proliferation of sidewalk encampments in our neighborhoods and a whole host of problems that causes," Bonin said.
The "Bridge Home" program was announced by Garcetti during his State of the City speech in April as a new front in the fight against homelessness, which has grown by about 75 percent over the last six years. The 2018 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found that more than 31,000 people are homeless in the city, including more than 23,000 living without shelter, which were both slight drops from the previous year after years of increases.
At least $20 million in direct budget funding for the program is allocated in the current fiscal year budget, with an additional $10 million in unallocated funds that could be used for shelters, and $85 million from the state as a one-time emergency grant for homeless programs, some of which could be used for the Bridge Home program.
The shelters are intended as a temporary solution to the problem while the city builds thousands of permanent supportive units approved in 2016 by city voters through Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure.
The temporary shelters will help transition homeless people off the street and into permanent housing, along with providing them access to supportive services, including addiction counseling, Garcetti and other leaders have said.
A Bridge Home site opened a few months ago near the El Pueblo monument in downtown Los Angeles, and there are many others at various stages of development.
The council's vote clears $5 million in funding for the Venice site.
Bonin's motion outlining the plan for the facility said it would include one tension membrane structure and additional modular trailers to establish bridge housing beds for 100 adults and 54 transition aged youth. The site will also include storage for residents of the bridge home facility, personal hygiene and laundry facilities, dining facilities, supportive and community engagement facilities and services, and 24-hour security.