Recently, the City of LA’s Housing Department started the process of submitting a proposal to the state for Project Homekey funding to purchase 9 hotels, or new apartment buildings, throughout the city to be converted into Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). This week I learned that the Extended Stay America on Ventura Blvd. in Woodland Hills is officially on their list. Since the Project Roomkey/Homekey programs began, City agencies have been working with hotel owners to purchase sites for homelessness interventions. This Extended Stay Hotel is part of a wider deal with the parent company to purchase four of their LA sites — including one north of our community in Council District 12. But a key difference is that with the CD3 site I was able to amend the proposal so ours would only serve seniors.
On February 10, the Homelessness and Poverty Committee approved matching funds for all of the Homekey applications, meaning that if any or all of these projects are approved by the State that the City officially promises to provide needed matching dollars. In Committee, I also added an amendment to the proposal to make our site 100% for seniors who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. The full proposal will be heard by the full City Council soon but this was a critical step.
The City’s Extended Stay-Woodland Hills Homekey proposal is separate from the recent one submitted by the County of LA that included using the nearby 818 Hotel for interim housing for families. Coincidentally, these two hotels, owned by separate private parties, desired to sell their property at the same time. It’s important to note however, that they are being sold for very different purposes. While the 818 is being sold to be used exclusively for families in need of transitional housing, the Extended Stay is being sold to be used for PSH. The Extended Stay would therefore no longer be a place zoned and used for transient housing as it is now, but it would become a place of stability where people would permanently reside — specifically seniors who are in need of supportive services.
Throughout the pandemic, my staff and I have reached out to every hotel owner in our district and until now few in the West Valley wanted to be leased or sold, although we did successfully convert one in Canoga Park and one in Reseda. So between these two sites we will potentially be able to serve two of the most vulnerable homeless populations, families and seniors.
It’s no secret that between these two sites, there has been a long history of serious crime issues. A few years ago I remember getting the report of several people overdosing on fentanyl at the Extended Stay leaving toxic materials littered around the area. That was one of many troubling stories. The conversion of the Extended Stay will serve clients who are already on their road to stability and who were referred by our service providers because they’re ready to be placed into PSH. My goal is that with 24/7 security and wrap-around, on-site, services — including mental health/drug counseling for those who need it — we can bring a level of safety and cleanliness to this area that hasn’t been seen in a long time. A 1000 foot, no encampment 41.18 buffer zone will help tremendously as well.
Again, the Committee’s action is just a first step. We won’t know if funding is approved until mid-March. When a service provider is chosen, I will make sure they do thorough outreach to our community and answer all our concerns. I will also set up a community advisory committee to work directly with the service provider as I have done with the cabin communities located in Tarzana and Reseda.
I understand that many will have fears about the site, but I hope those fears can be allayed and replaced with pride. We are in a crisis and we all, including all five communities of the 3rd district, need to create options for people that help prevent homelessness. All I ask at this point is for people to be open to the possibility of making this opportunity into one that is positive for both people in need and the surrounding community.
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