The Proposed Homeless Shelter In Koreatown Is On Hold

A rendering of the proposed Koreatown emergency homeless shelter, which is on hold — for now. (Courtesy L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson)

It was supposed to be the start of much-needed progress to address Los Angeles' homeless crisis.

Then residents protested in the street.

And a social media campaign was launched.

And an online petition gathered more than 10,000 signatures.

And now, after strong community opposition, L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson has pumped the brakes on a plan to put a homeless shelter in Koreatown. It's a clear setback to Mayor Eric Garcetti's plan to open one in every city council district.

Wesson, whose District 10 includes Koreatown, published a letter Thursday in English and Korean, essentially saying he'll be starting the process from scratch. He'd been the first district leader to select a location under Garcetti's plan, choosing a city-owned parking lot on Vermont Avenue near 7th Street.

"For the last seven weeks, I have been having conversations with individuals and groups throughout the Koreatown region in an effort to move the City and the community forward together on this issue to help the homeless get off the streets and into housing," Wesson wrote.

That clearly didn't go well. Wesson and Mayor Eric Garcetti announced back in early May that a shelter was going up on a city-owned parking lot in Koreatown, which drew instantaneous outrage from many community members. Some feared what a shelter would mean for crime and property values. Others felt slighted by Wesson and other city leaders for leaving them out of the process.

Members of the local Korean community protest against a proposal to erect a temporary homeless shelter in the Koreatown neighborhood on June 3, 2018. The Korean community is asking the Los Angeles City Council to hold public hearings to discuss and debate the issue. (Photo by Mark Ralston /AFP/Getty Images)

In his walk-back letter, Wesson calls for the creation of a commission on homelessness in Koreatown and for the city to study other sites as potential shelter sites — including the parking lot of his own district office.

The district leaders also said he's committed to holding community workshops and other gatherings during the summer for residents to weigh in on the issue.

KPCC producer Bianca Ramirez contributed to this story.


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