Koreatown: Homeless Shelter sparking outrage from local residents

Yumi Kim , May 16, 2018, 3:29 p.m.

Homelessness has surpassed its traditional borders several years ago, spreading first to dark underpasses and dim side streets to public parks, subway platforms, and open-viewed streets. No matter where you reside in L.A. County, from Long Beach to North Hollywood or Koreatown to Beverly Hills, you can see the tent cities and encampments that have spread throughout. The despair and misery of these homeless people are apparent. Today, we’ve entered a state of emergency, where more than 58,000 people have become homeless within the county alone. It doesn’t stop there, as the growing number continues to rise. The homelessness crisis also carries misconceptions as the vast majority believe that the homeless people are mentally ill or drug-addicts rather than people who lost everything and ended in the streets. In response to the homelessness crisis, a campaign was derived to help reduce the number of homeless people.

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On May 2, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Herb Wesson were joined by members of the Korean American, Bangladeshi, and African American communities to kick off the City’s $20 million campaign to open new shelters across Los Angeles, beginning with Koreatown. The proposed site of the shelter in Koreatown is located on 7th and Vermont. The location serves the highest concentration of the approximately 1500 homeless individuals in the Wilshire Center area. This is a temporary emergency shelter that is established to respond to the homeless individuals living in the streets, including Koreatown. The City seeks to bring a secure, clean emergency shelter that will house homeless individuals and provide services that will assist in transitioning them to supportive housing.

Following the news of the campaign, there has been considerable concern from the Koreatown community, primarily stemming from concerns relating to the project’s location as well as public safety concerns. Many community members believe the shelter will increase crime rates, facilitate drugs, and disrupt businesses. On May 12, a large protest was held in Koreatown over plans to put the shelter there. More than 200 community members gathered together to address their concerns and fears. Many people believe that the shelter is too close to schools and restaurants. They recognized the homeless crisis but want the city to hear their concerns and seek a public hearing. A petition opposing the shelter has garnered over 8,000 signatures since last week. Jae Sang, plan opponent, stated, “The main issue for the group is that the decision was made without the decision of the community.”

Although the proposed campaign aims to help and shelter numerous of homeless people, many community individuals fear that it might lead to serious issues onwards. 

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