With wintry rainstorms hitting Los Angeles County, the Board of Supervisors directed the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and County staff to move urgently to open the county’s winter shelter system early to provide refuge for homeless residents.
The shelters, including 13 locations and providing hundreds of beds, are now open to those in need of refuge.
The County is also working with LAHSA and other partners to identify additional sites that could be transformed for use as additional temporary shelters during the upcoming storms.
The LAHSA-administered winter shelter program will permanently open for the season on December 1. With more than 44,000 unsheltered residents—75% of the county’s overall homeless population of nearly 59,000—Supervisors underscored the urgency of acting swiftly in the face of upcoming storms.
“We must do all we can to help people be safe indoors during inclement weather. It is important that we hasten to prevent additional illness and death by expediting the immediate launch of the Winter Shelter program,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the sponsor of the motion to immediately launch the shelters. “We have a crisis on our hands so we must act with urgency. To me, that means rapidly deploying our resources and using our know-how to implement elements of a comprehensive crisis response.”
“I know how crucial, and sometimes life-saving, it can be for people experiencing homelessness to come in from the cold to eat a hot meal and sleep in a warm bed,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “While Winter Shelters are scheduled to open December 1st, this year the cold weather didn’t wait until then. I am pleased that today’s motion included my amendment so that in the future, we could activate Winter Shelters earlier when the weather demands it.”
“This storm is coming and will be dangerous to anyone left sleeping on our streets. We need to get as many of our winter shelters open as possible and we need to explore every available County building, school, or community center that we can open up to keep people safe and warm during these winter storms,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn.
“Today’s action will allow us to expedite the opening of life-saving resources in our communities,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “This is the first step in ensuring that our system is flexible, responsive and operates with a sense of focused urgency.”