homelessness

LA Considers Options for Homeless People to Store Their Personal Items on City Property

The city is considering locations for a citywide network of small-scale shipping-container storage facilities for homeless people to use.

AP Photo/Richard Vogel

Los Angeles plans to consider options for homeless people to store personal items on city-owned properties. 

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to pursue those options, which might include parking lots, vacant parcels and other properties. 

The motion directs the city administrative officer to identify sites that can be used for a citywide network of small-scale shipping-container storage facilities for homeless people to use. The CAO will report back to the City Council within 60 days with a plan for funding and the establishment of five initial facilities at key locations in the city.

“A lack of storage options can create major obstacles for a person experiencing homelessness. The inability to secure or transport a large quantity of possessions can make it far more difficult to leave a tent or encampment -- creating obstacles to seeking work, making appointments to see case managers or moving elsewhere even if a location has become hazardous,'' the motion reads. “When people are connected to shelter, facilities limit the amount of belongings participants are allowed to bring in, often leaving people to choose between staying on the street so they can keep their possessions or sleeping in a bed while forfeiting items that will not fit in two suitcases, a common standard.”

The LA City Council set a goal to add 25,000 units of homeless housing by 2025. John Cádiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021.

The motion calls for a focus on properties deemed unsuitable for permanent or interim housing. On Feb. 24, the council passed a motion introduced by Councilman Kevin de Leon as part of his “A Way Home'' initiative to have all city departments report on the feasibility of using land they own to create temporary or permanent homeless housing.

Councilwoman Nithya Raman notes in her motion that creating a storage network on city-owned properties could address the public health issue created by excess storage on sidewalks. She added that items that are improperly stored can create a fire risk and that having possessions in the public right-of-way may pose dangers for pedestrians and people with disabilities.

The motion cites two smaller-scale storage facilities operated by the city that have been successful: The Bin in downtown Los Angeles and Echo Park, which operate at nearly full capacity consistently. Raman said the Echo Park site should provide a model for the citywide network.

The City Council also voted Tuesday to develop a pilot program in District 3 to help residents of a shelter and two cabin communities store excess belongings at local storage facilities to ensure they have smooth transition from the street into temporary housing.

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